Kevin Youkilis expected to be traded soon

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UPDATE, 9:35 PM ET: According to Rosenthal, the Indians are now considered a “longshot” to land Youkilis and the Dodgers have only had “minimal contact” with Boston’s front office. It sounds like it might come down to the White Sox and Pirates.

3:52 PM ET: Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM reports that the Red Sox are hoping Youkilis is traded today to the White Sox, Indians or Dodgers.

3:30 PM ET: Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review was told by a new source that the Pirates are “likely” out on Youkilis “at this point.”

2:00 PM ET: Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is now reporting that the Pirates are “very much” in the mix for Kevin Youkilis. Of course, the Pirates have already benefited by getting A.J. Burnett from the Yankees for almost nothing, so they probably are thinking, “Why the heck not?”

1:44 PM ET: Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Dodgers are on the “fringe” of talks for Kevin Youkilis. Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com have been told that the Pirates remain in the mix.

11:20 AM ET: It sounds like a deal could happen at any moment.

Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald was told by a major league source that Kevin Youkilis will be traded “sooner rather than later” while ESPN’s Buster Olney was told by MLB officials that a deal could happen as soon as today.

It appears that the Red Sox are already making preparations for the post-Youkilis era, as Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe hears that team officials talked last night to discuss possible roster moves in the wake of a trade.

10:01 AM ET: Kevin Youkilis could be entering his final days in a Red Sox uniform.

According to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com, the Red Sox are currently speaking with multiple clubs and are moving closer to a possible deal. The White Sox have engaged in “heavy dialogue” for Youkilis while the Dodgers are also in the mix. For what it’s worth, one official involved in the talks told ESPN’s Buster Olney yesterday that the White Sox may be “best positioned” to make a deal.

The White Sox could certainly use the the upgrade, as they have a major league worst .165/.242/.218 batting line and a .460 OPS from the third base position this year. Orlando Hudson is currently getting the bulk of the playing time at the hot corner while Brent Morel recovers from a back injury.

Youkilis is making $12 million this season and his $13 million option for 2013 carries a $1 million buyout, so the Red Sox are willing to absorb some of his remaining salary in order to acquire a potentially useful piece in return. However, given his lack of production this year and the obvious durability concerns, it’s unlikely we’ll see them get a player of great significance. This is mostly about clearing the way for hot-hitting rookie Will Middlebrooks to officially take over as the starting third baseman while ensuring that Gold Glover Adrian Gonzalez won’t have to continue shuffling between right field and first base.

Astros talking to Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole about extensions

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It’s extension season and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros — who already agreed to an extension with Alex Bregman — are discussing contract extensions with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Funny thing about Verlander, by the way: when he got his current $180 million deal, most people fell into the “oh, there’s an overpay!” column. What’s more, this past winter, when everyone was talking about how bad it is to give guys big long term deals, Verlander’s name was notably absent in the conversation despite the fact that his deal has turned out to be quite good. I suppose that says something about how good the anti-long-term deal folks are at cherrypicking.

That being said, Rosenthal says “it would be an upset” if either Verlander or Cole signed extensions. I can see that. Verlander is locked up this year and has a vesting option for 2020, and a lot can happen in a year or two. Cole is a Scott Boras client and Boras clients tend to hit the market rather than sign extensions. Perhaps their former teammate, Dallas Keuchel‘s, terrible experience on the free agent market this winter will alter that calculus. Hard to say.