Josh Johnson drawing serious interest from Royals

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The Royals had a cool 3.45 team ERA in 2013 that ranked sixth in the majors, but they still missed the playoffs and Ervin Santana is expected to leave as a free agent this offseason. So, yet again, Kansas City’s front office is on a search for starting pitching.

ESPN’s Buster Olney hears that the Royals “want to work something out” with free agent right-hander Josh Johnson, who had a miserable 6.20 ERA and 1.66 WHIP in 16 starts with the Blue Jays this past summer and underwent elbow surgery in October.

The appeal is that Johnson was among the best starters in MLB between 2009-2012 and can probably be had on a low-risk one-year deal. Johnson, who isn’t yet 30 years old, registered a superb 3.15 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 8.2 K/9 in eight seasons with the Marlins before getting shipped north as part of a 12-player November 2012 trade. He owns a 3.40 career ERA and 1.27 career WHIP in 998 total big league frames.

Orioles “have begun fielding calls of interest” on Manny Machado

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports Thursday that the Orioles “are said to have begun fielding calls of interest” on superstar Manny Machado and “are close to the point of seriously weighing whether to trade him.”

You’d think it would be a no-brainer for the last-place O’s to flip Machado — an impending free agent — for prospects, but Heyman notes there is “still a question whether or not longtime Orioles owner Peter Angelos” will give the go-ahead. One person familiar with the situation put it a “50-50” likelihood. Another suggested that it would take a massive return, which, sure.

Machado entered play Thursday with a sensational .328/.405/.635 batting line, 15 home runs, and an MLB-leading 43 RBI in 49 games. It’d be a real shock if he’s still wearing an O’s uniform by the end of July.

Heyman reported previously that at least nine teams made aggressive plays for Machado this winter, including the Cubs, Phillies, Dodgers, Indians, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, and Cardinals. A whole lot of those teams still make sense here in late May — maybe all of them except the White Sox.