Tribe interested in Alvarez, Carter
The Indians are interested in two recently available power bats to help spark an offense that ranked near the bottom of the American League last season.
Cleveland is looking at Pedro Alvarez and Chris Carter, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, with the thinking that both would slot in at designated hitter. Alvarez and Carter weren't tendered contracts by the Pirates and Astros, respectively.
Alvarez -- a converted third baseman -- and Carter have experience at first base but would figure to give starter Carlos Santana a break only on occasion. The biggest factor in Cleveland's interest is their bats: Both 27-year-old sluggers have posted a 35-plus homer season, and the Indians ranked 11th in the AL in runs and 13th in homers in 2015.
Alvarez is a .236/.309/.441 career hitter with 131 homers in six Major League seasons and was a 2013 National League All-Star and Silver Slugger Award winner at third base.
Carter, a six-year veteran, has hit .217/.312/.452 with 109 homers with the A's and Astros.
Carp to post Maeda
The free-agent pitching pool may be receiving an upgrade soon, as the Hiroshima Carp are reportedly set to post right-hander Kenta Maeda, according to a Yahoo Japan report.
The Carp are likely to set Maeda's posting fee at the maximum amount of $20 million, established by the current posting rules that went into effect in 2013. MLB clubs willing to pay the fee will then have 30 days to negotiate toward a deal with Maeda.
Maeda, 27, has pitched professionally for eight seasons with the Carp, compiling a 97-67 record with a 2.64 ERA through 218 career games.
Late Thursday evening, the D-backs emerged as the first potential landing spot for the Japanese righty. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweeted that Arizona is interested in Maeda, in addition to free-agent hurlers Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, as none are attached to Draft-pick compensation. The D-backs have the No. 13 overall selection in next June's Draft.
California clubs pursuing Utley
All three Southern California teams -- the Angels, Dodgers and Padres -- are rumored to be in the mix to sign Chase Utley.
ESPN.com reported the clubs' interest and was told by a friend of Utley's that the veteran second baseman's preference is to play in his native California. Utley, 36, grew up near Los Angeles and played collegiately at UCLA.
Utley spent the first 12-plus years of his Major League career in Philadelphia before being traded to the Dodgers last August. Utley then became a free agent when Los Angeles declined his club option last month. He batted a career-low .212/.286/.343 through 107 games with the Dodgers and Phillies in 2015.
Shields on the block in San Diego James Shields' time with the Padres may be limited as the right-hander has been the subject of frequent trade speculation this winter.
ESPN.com reported Thursday that San Diego continues to shop Shields. He is still owed $63 million of the franchise-record $75 million, four-year contract he signed in February. The deal contains a club option for $16 million with a $2 million buyout for 2019.
Shields, who turns 34 this month, went 13-7 with a 3.91 ERA through 33 starts in his debut season with the Padres. He's entering his 11th year in the Majors and has totaled more than 200 innings in nine consecutive seasons.
Samardzija's offers pushing nine figures
Free agent Jeff Samardzija could be in line for a big payday, despite coming off a down season with the White Sox.
CBS Chicago reported that the veteran right-hander is likely to net around an $18 million annual salary, adding that one team has already offered a contract valued at $90 million. The news comes on the heels of ESPN.com's report Wednesday that Samardzija is claiming to have a $100 million offer on the table.
Samardzija, 30, went 11-13 last season, posting his worst ERA (4.96) since becoming a full-time starter in 2012.
Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.