UPDATE: Pirates the favorites to sign Clint Barmes

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UPDATE: Jon Heyman of SI.com hears that Barmes is expected to receive a two-year contract worth around $11 million.

2:15 PM: Clint Barmes has drawn a surprising amount of interest in the early days of the Hot Stove season, but Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com hears that the Pirates appear to be the current favorites to sign him. Jon Heyman of SI.com is hearing similar information.

Barmes, who turns 33 in March, batted .244/.312/.386 with 12 home runs, 39 RBI and a .698 OPS over 495 plate appearances with the Astros this season. He is regarded as an elite defender and would represent an improvement for the Pirates, who had a lousy .249/.294/.335 batting line and .629 OPS out of the shortstop position this past season. Pittsburgh has an opening after declining Ronny Cedeno’s $3 million option late last month.

The Giants and Brewers are also involved in the bidding for Barmes, who Rosenthal hears will likely receive a two-year contract. Chances are he’ll sign for less money than Rafael Furcal, but as Matthew noted in his Top 111 free agents, there’s a case to be made that he’s the third-best shortstop available behind Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins.

George Springer exits game with hamstring injury

George Springer
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Astros right fielder George Springer left Friday’s game with yet another injury, this one on a sliding catch attempt in the eighth inning. As Springer converged with Yuli Gurriel and Aledmys Díaz on a high pop-up, he slid into foul territory and appeared to be in moderate discomfort after getting up.

From the replay, it looked as through Springer might have felt some pain in his left hamstring, but the Astros have yet to comment on the exact nature or severity of his injury. After exiting the field, he was promptly replaced by Josh Reddick in the right field corner, while Tony Kemp entered the game to take over in left.

It’s been a rough month for the 29-year-old outfielder, who narrowly avoided a trip to the injured list after missing four games with lower back stiffness earlier this week. Following the Astros’ 4-3 win over the Red Sox, manager A.J. Hinch told reporters he’s “not looking forward to the diagnosis” this time around, and expects to place Springer on the IL until he can work back to full strength.