Report: Bay turns down Boston's $60 million offer

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SI.com’s Jon Heyman reports that Jason Bay has turned down a four-year, $60 million offer from the Red Sox and will officially hit the open market.
Not a shock, certainly. Bay was never going to accept $60 million, whether he ends up remaining in Boston or going elsewhere, and there was little reason for him to accept a deal of any kind before at least seeing what other offers are available.
As general manager Theo Epstein put it: “It’s not a surprise that a player that’s gone this far wants to see what’s out there.”
The assumption is that a) Bay would like to re-sign with Boston, b) the Red Sox are legitimately interested in bringing him back, and c) Epstein and company could turn their attention to Matt Holliday at some point if the market for Bay is crowded. Interestingly, the Cardinals have indicated that they aren’t interested in pursuing Bay if Holliday decides to leave St. Louis, so the left fielders simply swapping teams is highly unlikely.
As noted by Matthew Pouliot in his excellent, in-depth preview of this offseason’s free agent outfielders, once you get beyond Bay and Holliday there isn’t much available in terms of big bats. Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Vladimir Guerrero, and Jermaine Dye are the best of the rest, but all come with question marks that could have teams that miss out on Bay and Holliday instead turning to the trade market for lineup help.

Yadier Molina will not enter contract negotiations during the 2017 season

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.

Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:

I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.

The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.

The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.

Colby Rasmus could start 2017 on the disabled list

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Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.

Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.

The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.