The Astros are getting calls on Bud Norris

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The Astros would prefer to keep shortstop Jed Lowrie, but Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports hears that they are willing to listen to offers for right-hander Bud Norris. The Royals are among the clubs who have inquired on Norris and they are also looking at free agent right-hander Shaun Marcum as they continue to look for ways to upgrade their rotation.

Norris, who turns 28 in March, posted a 4.65 ERA and 165/66 K/BB ratio over 168 1/3 innings this past season. While it was a disappointing showing after he had a 3.77 ERA in 2011, his peripherals were virtually the same. Norris is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, so the timing makes sense to see what’s out there.

The belief around the league is that the trade market for pitchers could get some more clarity once teams know where Zack Greinke is headed. While the Royals have called on Norris, they would reportedly prefer to land a big-name starting pitcher like James Shields or R.A. Dickey.

Report: Padres have made offers to both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper

Manny Machado
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
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Jon Heyman has been hot on the free agent trail today, reporting that the Padres have made offers both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. The offer to Machado is believed to be for eight years and about $250 million, while the offer to Harper is believed to be for more than that.

Heyman was reporting on Harper earlier, tweeting that the Phillies are the favorite to sign him. He added this evening that Harper has multiple long-term offers at more than $30 million annually. Regarding Machado, Heyman noted that while Machado was believed to have had a preference for the East coast, he will go for the best deal now, which puts the Padres firmly in the picture.

The Padres reportedly met with Machado last week. A late entrant into the sweepstakes, the club has shown the willingness to spend, signing Eric Hosmer to an eight-year, $144 million contract last year. If he goes to San Diego, Machado would be the full-time third baseman with Luis Urias handling shortstop.

Nothing appears close, but we’ll take anything resembling a spark to light the hot stove.