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.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.