Mets considering Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano as potential R.A. Dickey replacements

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The Mets jumped at the chance to trade R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays earlier this week in exchange for catchers Travis d’Arnaud and John Buck, prospect right-hander Noah Syndergaard and prospect outfielder Wuilmer Becerra. While it’s a tall order, they now need to find a way to replace the 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner in their starting rotation.

With that in mind, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports that the Mets have reached out to the agents for Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano, among “many others.” Liriano, 29, had a 5.34 ERA and 167/87 K/BB ratio over 156 2/3 innings this past season between the Twins and White Sox. Pavano will likely come cheaper after being limited to just six starts in 2012 due to a nagging shoulder injury.

As of now, Johan Santana, Jon Niese, Matt Harvey and Dillon Gee are locks for the starting rotation while young arms like Jenrry Mejia, Jeremy Hefner and Collin McHugh are among the internal candidates for the fifth spot. Santana and Gee are both coming off injuries and Harvey has never pitched a full season in the majors, so chances are they’ll add a veteran arm, even if it’s just as simple as bringing back Chris Young. The hope is that prospect right-hander Zack Wheeler will be ready to take a rotation spot at some point in 2013.

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.