Rumor Mill: Zack Greinke & Hiroki Kuroda front-runners + Kevin Youkilis & Kyuji Fujikawa interest

The Dodgers are the favorite to win the Zack Greinke sweepstakes, according to Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald.

According to an industry insider, the Dodgers are the favorites to wind up with top free agent starter Zack Greinke, with the Angels and Rangers on the outside looking in. And no starting pitcher on the market is going to be complaining by the end of the hot stove season.

Furthermore, “rival GMs” are telling ESPN‘s Buster Olney that if the Dodgers want him, they’ll get him.

The Rangers want Zack Greinke and are willing to be aggressive. The Angels want to keep Greinke. But ultimately, rival GMs predict, if the Dodgers intend to sign Greinke, they will get him. L.A. is also bidding for Hiroki Kuroda, whom they know well from his previous time with the team. “Cost is no object for them,” said a GM. “They are playing a different game than the rest of us right now.”

All of this is great news if you were worried (like me) about how the pitching rotation would shake out even with all this spending. Greinke, despite whatever concerns you may have about him, has more than enough talent to slot in as a #1/#2 type behind Clayton Kershaw.

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The Dodgers are also front-runners (or close to it) for Hiroki Kuroda‘s services, according to Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles.

Previously, teams have been under the impression that Kuroda would either re-sign with the New York Yankees or return to his native Japan to finish his career. But Kuroda has told friends that his first preference is to pitch in Southern California, where his two daughters are attending elementary school.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post adds that the Yankees are only willing to give him a one-year deal, which only adds to the chances that he ends up in California.

That is because, The Post has learned, the Yankees are willing to offer Kuroda just a one-year contract at present. Two other teams that seemingly would be attractive to Kuroda, the Dodgers and Angels, probably would be willing to offer at least a two-year pact to the righty.

I do wonder how much truth there is to all of this talk, because signing two or three starters in free agency (also rumored to be in on Anibal Sanchez) would mean they have eight or nine starters going into 2013. Now, after that A-Gon trade, I’m never going to completely dismiss a Dodger rumor when it comes to them spending money, but it does seem unlikely that they are in the lead for all these pitchers.

As far as Kuroda goes, I’m not sure how much legitimacy there is in him wanting a two-year deal. With the way he pitched a couple years ago, if he wanted a multi-year deal he could have got one, but he took that one-year deal because he wasn’t sure about his feelings in the future. Perhaps he changed his mind, but it would seem inconsistent with his previous behavior that he would now want to be locked in for more than a year.

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Dodgers are a member of the group of teams after Kyuji Fujikawa.

Right-hander Kyuji Fujikawa started meeting with MLB clubs and touring their facilities this past week, reports Gerry Fraley of The Dallas Morning News. He’s already visited the Diamondbacks and Cubs and is expected to meet with both the Dodgers and Angels as well. It’s unclear if he’ll meet with the Rangers on this trip.

An interesting relief option out of Japan. Video from the 2012 NPB season here:

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Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe says Kevin Youkilis is on the radar for the Dodgers.

9. Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B, free agent — Good-sized market so far for Youkilis, at both third and first base, according to his agent, Joe Bick. The Indians are looking at him as a first baseman, while the Phillies and Dodgers are considering him at third (a back-burner option for the Dodgers). The Diamondbacks made a call, but Towers indicated they will likely not be involved.

Hell, why not, right? If the rumors are true that they’re just going to spend anything they want, why not sign Youkilis? Even if you like Luis Cruz over him, Youkilis is useful off the bench anyway.

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