Pirates serious about a Justin Upton bid?

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That’s what ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark believes. Color me skeptical.

That doesn’t seem very serious to me. Marte is a fine prospect — the 23-year-old outfielder is hitting .286/.349/.490 for Triple-A Indianapolis this year — but he’s probably not a future star and he doesn’t fill one of the Diamondbacks’ biggest needs.

Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon are the Pirates’ top two prospects. Cole ranks as one of the game’s top five pitching prospects, and Taillon, while lacking polish, possesses the same kind of top-of-the-rotation upside. The Diamondbacks would almost certainly hold out for one of the two in an Upton deal, particularly since the Pirates lack the kind of infield prospects the Diamondbacks are looking for.

Cole’s name also came up in Nick Cafardo’s Boston Globe column today. Cafardo talks about the Red Sox possibly dealing Jon Lester, with Cole as one of their top targets in such a move.

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.