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MLBits: Molina Ready to Test Free Agency, Pitcher Injuries, That Lindor Rumor, Soler Hurt, More

MLB News and Rumors

We are less than a week away from the first pitch of the 2017 season – which is great! The Cubs, of course, kick things off this Sunday night in St. Louis.

But while that is certainly exciting, it brought something decidedly less exciting to my attention: this is basically the last week you can really cheer on Dexter Fowler.

Come Sunday night, you can wish him the best – like I plan to – but, well, it’s business time. He won’t take it easy on the Cubs, and the competition needs to be returned.

And, of course, Fowler also looks extremely ready for the season, slashing .351/.468/.595 for the Cardinals on the Spring – which happens to be the third highest OPS out of their camp for anyone with more than 30 plate appearances. Best of luck, Dex, but also … not so much?


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  • A while back, I caught wind of this “Four Horsemen of Queens” Mets commercial, which promoted the fact that the front four of the Mets’ rotation were FINALLY going to pitch at the same time, and frankly, it was pretty cool. However, it may no longer be accurate. One of the “four horsemen” – Steven Matz – has been scratched from today’s start with “elbow discomfort,” according to David Lennon (Newsday). And it doesn’t seem like it’s just a “take it easy in Spring Training” thing, either. According to Lennon, the injury is likely to land Matz on the disabled list to start the season. With that said, his doctor believes it’s simply a part of the rehab process and that everything is structurally OK. For his – and baseball’s – sake, let’s hope he comes back soon. The Mets rotation could be a lot of fun for baseball, after all – it would be nice to see it once in a while. (Maybe the Cubs can always catch the back end of the rotation in their series against the Mets this year?)
  • And speaking of that rotation, the former #1, Matt Harvey, just had himself his best outing of the Spring as he comes back from surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. Aside from the results (6 IP, 2 ER, 5H, 1BB 4K), Harvey was working between 93-94 MPH, and even hit up to 97 MPH as he threw 82 pitches. Scouts saw good movement and both they and the fans are apparently quite encouraged. The Mets probably have an uphill battle (thanks to the Nationals) in the NL East, but they could certainly contend for the division (and definitely a Wild Card) as they continue to beat up on teams like the Marlins, Phillies, and Braves throughout the season.
  • Sticking with injured pitchers from the East, David Price’s latest exam showed “improved strength,” according to Red Sox Manager John Farrell, but there is not yet a timetable for a return to the mound (let alone game action). For now, he’ll continue his light catching routine and aim for a return sometime in May. The Sox owe Price $30 million both this and next season, $31 million in 2019, and then $32 million for each of the three seasons after that.

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  • Back in 2013, a 30-year-old Yadier Molina signed a five-year deal with the Cardinals worth $72 million ($14.4M/year), taking him through the 2017 season. And although there is a mutual team option worth $15 million in 2018, it appears likely that Molina will instead take the $2 million buyout and head to free agency if there’s not an extension by opening day. “We have one more week to talk about it and after that I’m going to concentrate on my game,” Molina said via Jenifer Langosch (MLB.com). “Whatever they want to do, like I said, I’d love to stay here, but if they don’t want to spend money, I understand that, too. This is a business.” Query what sort of contract a 35-year-old Molina will get, but the seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove catcher is sure to catch on somewhere. It would just be so strange if that wasn’t St. Louis.
  • In a weird way, I don’t want Molina to leave St. Louis. It would be like the Joker leaving Gotham City. Like, I know he’s “the bad guy” … but that’s why he exists. I want our Cubs’ heroes to keep beating him and winning, you know? Derrick Goold has more on Yadi at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Apparently, Molina thinks he still has plenty left in the tank, and the Cardinals plan to make him a significant offer.
  • In other Cardinals news, Brett wrote about Kolten Wong’s surprisingly frustrated comments about a possible platoon.
  • If you missed this last night, you missed a really good laugh:


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  • Brody Chernoff, the six-year-old son of Indians GM Mike Chernoff, blurted out that his dad was trying to sign Francisco Lindor to a seven-year extension, and we all rightfully lost our minds (and laughed about it). But apparently – and this is just the “official” story – Brody was a bit confused. According to Mike Chernoff, Brody was mistakenly swapping the recently finalized Jose Ramirez deal with a non-existent Lindor extension. A convenient cover-up? A likely story? The truth? Eh. Who knows. Stay tuned with Brody for the latest.

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  • Speaking of that Jose Ramirez deal, he was but one of two notable pre-arbitration extensions over the weekend, as both he and Rougned Odor provided further context and precedent for some potential Cubs’ extensions down the road.
  • Despite rumors to the contrary, the Washington Nationals never landed one of the big closers this offseason – and if you recall, there were plenty to be had (Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Mark Melancon, Wade Davis) – but that may not be a problem. Why? Well, they have the eighth round pick of the 2015 Draft, Koda Glover, of course! Okay, if you’re unfamiliar with Glover, that’s totally reasonable – not many outside of the organization would be. But apparently, he’s been angling for the closer’s job since he was drafted and that means a lot to manager Dusty Baker. And given how competitive the Nats figure to be in 2017, it would be quite the story if Glover were to get the closer job on a playoff contender just one full season removed from being taken in the eighth round.

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  • At FanGraphs, Craig Edwards writes that Yoan Moncada deserves the “Kris Bryant Treatment,” with regards to promoting him just after the team gains an extra year of control. HOWEVA, Edwards contends that that treatment needs to happen this year – one year earlier than it did with Bryant. Instead of waiting just a week and a half, though, the White Sox will have to wait until May 15 to gain an additional year of control, because of the 31 days he spent with the big league Red Sox last season. I’m not sure the Sox should be in any rush to call up Moncada, especially when the future looks far, far brighter than the present. But there’s something to be said for training with the big league team and garnering goodwill with your players (which is not to say the Cubs don’t have goodwill with Bryant, whom they just signed to a record pre-arb contract).
  • In old friend news, Jorge Soler is injured again, and it’s his oblique. That’ll likely land him on the disabled list to start the season, and we know how long that particular injury can keep a hitter out. Oof. Hopefully he’s back soon, because there’s just no reason not to root for a great year for him.

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  • And finally, why waste your time not watching a 52-year-old Barry Bonds crush dingers in batting practice, when you could do the opposite:


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Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami.