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Mariners “continue to target” free agent Josh Hamilton

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Jon Heyman of CBS Sports provides the following scoop:

The Seattle Mariners, searching for offense, continue to target slugger Josh Hamilton.

The Mariners probably aren’t prepared to meet Hamilton’s request for a seven-year deal, but they seem to have emerged as the likeliest alternative to the incumbent Rangers by virtue of their perceived willingness to go longer than most. Seattle may be amenable to five years, or perhaps even six, though that is fairly speculative and like all the interested teams they have a wariness about going long for Hamilton.

Heyman notes on Twitter that the Yankees are not involved “at this point” and would only consider making an offer to Hamilton if his asking price drops significantly. “Not happening,” Heyman concludes.

The Red Sox have been linked and even met with Hamilton at the Winter Meetings last week in Nashville, Tennessee. But they’ve already committed a total of $78 million to Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli.

So it sounds like it will come down to Seattle and Texas, though the Rangers still have their sights set on a trade for Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton. Perhaps a “mystery team” is waiting in the weeds.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.

President Obama pardons Willie McCovey

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 06:  San Francisco Giants legend Willie McCovey  waves to the crowd while seating between Jeff Kent (L) and Willie Mays during a ceremony honoring Buster Posey for winning the 2012 National League MVP before the Giants game against the St. Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park on April 6, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The big presidential pardon news today concerns the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence. We’ll leave that aside. For our purposes, know that someone in the world of baseball was pardoned: Willie McCovey.

Yes, Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, who in 1995 pleaded guilty to income tax fraud related to the non-reporting of income received from memorabilia and autograph shows. Duke Snider pleaded guilty alongside McCovey. They were given two years probation and fines of $5,000. Snider died in 2011. McCovey still works with the San Francisco Giants as a senior advisor and goodwill ambassador.

President Obama’s release of McCovey’s pardon was pretty succinct. But it’s enough to scrub the record of one of the greatest sluggers of all time.