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Rumor roundup: Orioles have asked Dodgers about Kemp

Mets looking to deal one of three starting pitchers
MLB.com

Earlier in November, it looked likely that free agent Nick Markakis would re-sign with Orioles, who also could bring back fellow outfielder Nelson Cruz.

But with Baltimore's chances of retaining Markakis now appearing less certain, the club could be eyeing alternatives, as well as searching for leverage in those negotiations. A FOXSports.com report indicated just that on Sunday, saying that the Orioles not only are talking with free agent Torii Hunter, but also have discussed a Matt Kemp trade with the Dodgers.

Earlier in November, it looked likely that free agent Nick Markakis would re-sign with Orioles, who also could bring back fellow outfielder Nelson Cruz.

But with Baltimore's chances of retaining Markakis now appearing less certain, the club could be eyeing alternatives, as well as searching for leverage in those negotiations. A FOXSports.com report indicated just that on Sunday, saying that the Orioles not only are talking with free agent Torii Hunter, but also have discussed a Matt Kemp trade with the Dodgers.

Kemp has been the subject of numerous rumors, with the Dodgers facing a glut of outfielders. Kemp's stock isn't at the level it was a few years ago, and he has $107 million remaining on his contract, which runs through 2019. On the other hand, right-handed power is difficult to find, and the 30-year-old hit .287/.346/.506, with 25 home runs and 89 RBIs this past season.

Production like that would help the Orioles compensate if they lose Markakis and Cruz. Markakis, 31, has been part of the organization since 2003, and he spent the past nine seasons in Baltimore, hitting .276/.342/.386 in 2014, with 14 homers and 50 RBIs. Cruz signed with the O's last offseason, and the 34-year-old went on to lead the Majors with 40 homers, while also driving in 108 runs as he split time between the outfield and designated hitter.

Mets put Colon, Gee, Niese on the block
With depth in the starting rotation and weaknesses to address elsewhere on the roster, it makes sense that the Mets could pursue a trade this offseason. In fact, the club is "actively" looking to deal a veteran starter, according to the New York Post.

New York can offer right-handers Bartolo Colon or Dillon Gee or lefty Jon Niese, with Matt Harvey set to rejoin a staff that also features Zack Wheeler and National League Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom.

Colon is due to make $11 million in his age-42 season but threw 202 1/3 innings in 2014, with a 4.09 ERA. Gee will be 29 this year and in his second season of arbitration after posting a 4.00 ERA over 22 starts, missing some time due to injury. Niese, 28, made 30 starts with a 3.40 ERA in '14 and is signed for $16 million over the next two years, with options of $10 million and $11 million for '17 and '18.

There currently are higher-end pitching options available on the free-agent market or potentially available through trade, so the Mets might have to wait -- perhaps into Spring Training -- to find a return they like.

A choice for Hunter
Hunter will celebrate his 40th birthday next July, during what would be his 19th Major League season. The veteran free agent seems to be attracting plenty of interest nonetheless.

Video: Duquette looks at top available free-agent hitters

Hunter told the Los Angeles Daily News on Saturday night that he's considering the Orioles, Mariners and Rangers, with the Twins another possibility. He began his career with Minnesota back in 1997 and played there through 2007 before embarking on stints with the Angels and Tigers.

Other teams, including the Royals, also remain involved in the pursuit of Hunter, FOXSports.com reported on Sunday.

A nine-time Gold Glove Award winner in center field, Hunter has moved to right and seen his defense slip in recent years, but his bat continues to make him attractive to teams. For Detroit this past season, he hit .286/.319/.446, with 17 homers and 83 RBIs.

Shark a big target as A's wheel and deal
Billy Beane and the A's have made it clear over the years that they are willing to make some bold moves, something that was reinforced with Friday's trade of All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays.

And Oakland may not be done, with rumors flowing about a potential trade of right-hander Jeff Samardzija to the White Sox or Braves.

The A's acquired Samardzija from the Cubs last season as they made a push for the playoffs, but now could be looking to move him as he enters his last year of club control. Samardzija could earn close to $10 million in his age-30 season before becoming a free agent at the end of the year.

Samardzija went 7-13 with a 2.99 ERA and 202 strikeouts over 219 2/3 innings in 2014. A former Notre Dame baseball and football star, Samardzija could welcome a trade to the White Sox, which would take him back to Chicago and near where he grew up in northwest Indiana.

Braves could keep, extend J. Upton
This offseason, the Braves already traded Jason Heyward to the Cardinals before his final year ahead of free agency. Fellow outfielder Justin Upton is in the same position, and rumors have been flying that Atlanta will deal him as well.

Yet it's not a lock that Upton will be wearing a different uniform in 2015, and the slugger could in fact stick around even longer. Braves president of baseball operations John Hart appeared on MLB Network Radio on Sunday, and he said the club is not involved in active discussions involving Upton or catcher/outfielder Evan Gattis. Though Hart downplayed the possibility of a long-term extension for Upton, he also called it "not out of the realm of possibility."

Upton will make $14.5 million this coming season at age 27, and he will be expensive to retain after that. He's a career .274/.354/.476 hitter, averaging 24 home runs and 80 RBIs per year since 2009. In '14, he slammed 29 homers and drove in 102 runs, while posting an .833 OPS.

Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.