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Cardinals have interest in shortstop Erick Aybar

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CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler shares this scoop:

After talking to the White Sox about Alexei Ramirez and checking in with the Phillies on Jimmy Rollins, the Cardinals have now been in touch with the Angels about Erick Aybar, according to sources.

Anaheim surely wants young pitching prospects in return and that’s something the Cardinals possess.

Aybar, 29, is batting .280/.309/.384 with four home runs, five stolen bases and 37 RBI in 82 games this season for the 48-56 Halos. Pete Kozma, 25, is hitting .241/.286/.304 in 96 games for the 62-41 Cards.

Aybar is making a $8.5 million salary this year and owed a total of $25.5 million from 2014 to 2016.

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UPDATE, 8:41 p.m. ET: Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM says the Angels want one of the Cardinals’ top two pitching prospects — Carlos Martinez or Michael Wacha — along with Kozma in return for Aybar. The Cardinals are “reluctant” to do the trade at that lofty price, according to Bowden’s source.

UPDATE, 8:56 p.m. ET: Bowden reports that the Cardinals have made it clear to the Angels that they will not trade Martinez or Wacha for Aybar. The asking price will have to come down for this one to work.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.