B.J. Upton expected to sign with new team this week

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Most highly-coveted free agents will wait until the Winter Meetings (held in early December) to begin seriously considering their options. But a few pieces of the offseason puzzle typically fall into place a little early. And this year will apparently be no different.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes in his Sunday column that outfielder B.J. Upton is “looking to make a decision this week” on the multiple offers he’s been presented. The Phillies and Braves have both been aggressive in their pursuits of Upton, and the Nationals, Rangers and Giants have also been loosely linked.

Upton hit just .246 with a .298 OBP in 633 plate appearances this past season for the Rays, but he slugged 28 home runs and stole 31 bases. And that kind of power and speed will always attract great interest.

The 28-year-old from Norfolk, Virginia seems likely to land a five-year deal worth close to $75 million.

Dodgers plan to tab Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of World Series

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.

Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.

Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.

Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.

The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.