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Markakis, O’s in ‘serious’ talks

Talks between the Orioles and Nick Markakis regarding a four-year deal are “serious,” according to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.

Dialogue between Baltimore — the only organization Markakis has ever known — and the outfielder broke down earlier this week, but progress was made Wednesday, writes Heyman.

Markakis staying in Baltimore makes sense for both parties. The 30-year-old (who turns 31 next week) has spent all nine of his seasons with the Orioles, who selected him No. 7 overall in the 2003 Draft.

Markakis is a career .290/.358/.435 hitter with two Gold Glove Awards, including this past year.

– Cash Kruth

Cubs nearing deal for Zimmermann?

The Cubs are reportedly in contact with the Nationals regarding a potential trade for right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, according to The Chicago Sun Times.

A source told the Sun Times the teams have mutual interest in the names that have been discussed, while another told the newspaper he expected the deal to get done. That same source also added he expected the Cubs to sign free-agent right-hander Justin Masterson, who struggled in an injury-filled 2014 following an All-Star campaign in 2013.

Zimmermann, who turns 29 in May, is due to make $16.5 million in 2015, the final year of his contract. He was 14-5 with a 2.66 ERA in 32 starts in 2014, throwing 199 2/3 innings.

The Auburndale, Wisc., native has been a workhorse for the Nationals the past three seasons, logging 195 2/3 innings in 2012 and 213 1/3 innings last season while also winning 19 games.

The source told the Sun Times the Cubs initiated the talks involving Zimmermann.

– Cash Kruth

What’s next for Mets? Shortstop makes most sense

The Mets and Rockies have been linked in trade speculation regarding shortstop Troy Tulowitzki for the past couple of years, but that talk is heating up following the Mets’ signing of Michael Cuddyer.

As Yahoo’s Jeff Passan notes in this tweet, the Mets “fear they can’t afford (Tulowitzki), but still talking.” CBS Sports Jon Heyman also tweets he’s not hearing “any significant talks” between the two teams.

But it’s still fun to talk about, especially with the Cuddyer signing signifying the Mets feel they’re close to competing in the National League East.

Tulowitzki has previously been untouchable, but that stance has changed. Numerous teams will check in with the Rockies regarding Tulo, and they have to listen, given the return they’ll likely receive.

Another team that lines up well with the Mets is the Cubs, who have three shortstops — Starlin Castro, Javier Baez and Addison Russell — and need pitching, of which the Mets have plenty.

As ESPN’s Buster Olney notes, the Mets also could look to Chicago’s South Side for shortstop help and try to acquire Alexei Ramirez.

— Cash Kruth

Hunter drawing interest from at least 10 teams

Veteran outfielder Torii Hunter is drawing interest from at least 10 teams, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal lists the Royals, Twins, Tigers, Cubs, Giants, Rangers and Mariners as teams who have shown interest in the 39-year-old.

Hunter has said his preference is to remain in Detroit, but the Tigers’ first order of business this offseason is to resign designated hitter Victor Martinez. It is unlikely the Tigers will be able to keep both and, considering Martinez also will draw plenty of interest and Hunter has previously signed early — agreeing with the Angels (2007) and Tigers (2012) in November — it wouldn’t be far-fetched to think he lands elsewhere.

Although Hunter is far from the defender he once was — he’s actually a liability in the field according to many metrics — he can still hit. He batted .286 with 17 home runs and 83 RBIs this year for Detroit, a year after he hit .304 in an All-Star season at at 37.

Hunter turns 40 in July.

— Cash Kruth

Report: Yankees making ‘strong push’ for Headley

ESPN’s Wallace Matthews writes the Yankees are making a strong push to sign free-agent third baseman Chase Headley.

A source told Matthews the Yankees “are looking at Headley to start at third, play some DH and back up [the oft-injured] Mark Teixeira at first base.”

That’s basically the role New York would like Alex Rodriguez to fill, but the Yankees have no idea what they’ll get out of the 39-year-old A-Rod, who was suspended all of last year and has already had two hip operations.

Headley hit well during his stint with the Yankees last year, slashing .262/.371/.398 with six home runs in 58 games.

Headley, 30, is the second-best third baseman on the market behind Pablo Sandoval. But considering all the money the Yankees owe Rodriguez, it isn’t financially feasible — even for them — to sign another big-money third baseman.

— Cash Kruth

Markakis agent to meet with handful of teams

Nick Markakis is looking at other options after talks between the outfielder and the Orioles appear to have stalled, reports Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun.

Markakis’ agent is planning to meet with several clubs at this week’s General Manager meetings but told Connolly the O’s were not one of his client’s suitors at this time.

Per Connolly, Baltimore and Markakis were discussing a four-year contract worth about $10-12 million per year.

Markakis, 31, has spent his entire nine-year career in Baltimore. He’s a .290/.358/.435 career hitter with 141 home runs, 61 stole bases and is a two-time Gold Glove Award winner who, as his agent notes, should draw plenty of interest from multiple teams.

— Cash Kruth

Ramirez rejects Dodgers’ QO

File this under the obvious category, but Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times tweets that shortstop Hanley Ramirez has rejected the Dodgers’ qualifying offer.

Ramirez is considered one of the top bats on the free-agent market and likely will receive the biggest contract of all the free agent position players.

– Cash Kruth

Mariners interested in J. Upton?

The Mariners are focused on adding a bat to their lineup to help protect Robinson Cano, and Justin Upton could be a possibility, writes CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.

While Victor Martinez and Hanley Ramirez are Seattle’s top two targets, Upton is an intriguing possibility.

Upton has been said to be available in a a trade, as well as fellow Braves outfielder Jason Heyward — both of whom will be free agents following the 2015 season.

Upton, according to Heyman’ sources, has dropped the Mariners from his no-trade list.

A power bat the caliber of Upton’s would fit perfectly in the Mariners’ outfield, which consisted of — from left to right — Dustin Ackley, Austin Jackson and Michael Saunders last season.

— Cash Kruth

Liriano still undecided

Left-hander Francisco Liriano and his agent are still mulling the Pirates’ qualifying offer, tweets Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

The deadline to accept or decline is 5 p.m ET.

Liriano, 31, was 7-10 with a 3.38 ERA in 29 starts for the Pirates last year.

- Cash Kruth

Blue Jays interested in V-Mart

The list of suiters for Victor Martinez is growing, as CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports the Blue Jays are among the teams interested in the designated hitter.

Martinez hit .335 with 32 home runs with 103 RBIs this season with a league-leading .409 on-base percentage and league-leading .974 OPS.

The Tigers, Blue Jays and Mariners are interested, Heyman writes, while other offseason reports also have the White Sox interested in the 35-year-old.

Martinez is expected to seek a four-year deal.

- Cash Kruth


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