Matthew Pouliot

Zack Greinke

Dodgers, Rangers setting up to be top bidders for Zack Greinke

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The New York Post’s Joel Sherman hears that the Rangers are “right there” with the Dodgers in the bidding for Zack Greinke, with the Nationals possibly still in the mix and the Angels nearly out of it.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com doesn’t see anyone hanging with the Dodgers, though:

But it seems pretty clear who is going to offer Greinke the biggest deal. The Dodgers seem determined to sign him, no matter the cost. As Dodgers president Stan Kasten said, “We are the opposite of the mystery team.”

The Braves have also touched base with Greinke, and Atlanta may well be the right-hander’s preferred destination given similar deals. However, the Braves aren’t likely to come in close to the Dodgers’ bid, especially not after splurging for B.J. Upton. Besides, their rotation is pretty good as is.

Greinke is certainly going to top Matt Cain’s five-year, $112.5 million deal and land the biggest contract for a right-handed pitcher in major league history. The real question is whether he’ll also surpass CC Sabathia’s seven-year, $161 million deal and get the largest pitching contract overall.

Report: Asdrubal Cabrera’s no-trade includes Red Sox, Tigers

Asdrubal Cabrera
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Some players with partial no-trade clauses choose to put the teams they really don’t want to play for on their block list. Others simply pick the teams most likely to trade for them, figuring that gives them more control over their future. Asdrubal Cabrera appears to have gone the latter route.

A source told WEEI.com’s Alex Speier that the six teams on Cabrera’s no-trade list are the Giants, Mets, Nationals, Red Sox, Tigers and Yankees.

The Red Sox and Tigers are two of the most notable teams looking for shortstops this winter. The Tigers did pick up Jhonny Peralta’s option, but they’re looking for someone with a bit more range at the position.

The Yankees, on the other hand, never appeared to be a likely destination. However, with Alex Rodriguez out for possibly half the season, Cabrera would be a more attractive option at third base than anyone out there in free agency.

Speier’s source said that Cabrera is open to a trade and probably wouldn’t wield his no-trade protection. If the Red Sox pursue him, they might try for Justin Masterson, too, though getting both would require parting with an awful lot of minor league talent.

Dodgers believe Shohei Otani will remain in Japan

Shohei Otani
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Everything from a couple of months ago said that Japanese phenom Shohei Otani had his heart set on playing in the U.S., with the Dodgers, Rangers and Red Sox all pursuing him. However, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times is told by a source that Otani may remain in Japan.

Otani, an 18-year-old right-hander, was selected by the Nippon Ham Fighters in the first round of Japan’s draft in October, but he’s still free to come to the U.S. if he wants. Despite the new rules governing international signings, Otani seems likely to land a deal north of $20 million if he chooses to make the jump across the Pacific.

Shane Victorino is fielding calls from Indians, Red Sox, Giants

Shane Victorino
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Shane Victorino’s down 2012 season will likely prevent him from getting a five-year deal as a free agent, but he’s still a very popular free agent:

Cleveland is an interesting possible destination, given that the Indians are far from big spenders and already have Michael Brantley to play center field. Victorino would presumably start in left field for the team. The Red Sox would use him in right field.

If Lauber is right, then Victorino’s demands have already come down a bit since the start of the spring. He might be smart to sign soon rather than wait for Michael Bourn and Angel Pagan to come off the board and shorten the number of suitors.

Report: Mariners, Orioles targeting Billy Butler

Billy Butler
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Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star says both the Mariners and Orioles are showing strong interest in Royals designated hitter Billy Butler.

Dutton sees the Mariners as the more likely trade partner, what with their stockpile of arms that includes Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton.

The Orioles also have some arms to deal from, such as Zach Britton and Chris Tillman, but their group isn’t quite as attractive as Seattle’s.

Most believe that the Royals will trade for a starter, probably using either Butler or top prospect Wil Myers. It’s doubtful that they’ll part with both.

If the Mariners acquired Butler, it’d seem to alter the plan that currently calls for Jesus Montero to get most of his time at DH next year. Montero could instead split time between catcher and first base and eventually become the regular first baseman if Justin Smoak fails to take a step forward.