Take a left on Matt Stairs Way

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Thanks to the curly mullet, the swing-from-his-heels approach and the big postseason homer in Philly last year, Matt Stairs would be awesome even if he didn’t have a street named after him.  Now, however, he has a street named after him:

On Saturday, the free-agent rightfielder, who played for the
Phillies the past two seasons, had a street named after him in his
hometown of Fredericton in the Canadian province of New Brunswick. And not just any street. The road that runs alongside Royal Field Park – the place Stairs first played professionally – has been renamed Matt Stairs Way.

“Royals Field . . . that’s one of the most special ones I’ve ever
been in,” Stairs told the Canadian Broadcasting Centre News. “One, it’s
in my hometown. Two, it’s where I was scouted, where I was signed. It’s
a home inside of a home city. And now, just to have a street named
around it is a great honor.”

I can’t think of a player I like more than Stairs. He’s all kinds of awesome packed into such an unassuming package. Stairs is one of the great “coulda beens” in baseball history. Sometimes I wonder what kind of damage Stairs would have done to major league pitching had the Expos not decided to try and make a second baseman out of him, which basically delayed his big league career until he was 29. If someone had stuck the guy at first or DH at age 23 or 24 and who knows what he would have done?

Sadly, it doesn’t look like the Phillies are interested in bringing him back for 2010. Not sure if anyone else will either (we’ll probably have to wait until the last possible minute before spring training to find out).  But even if he never plays another inning, we’ll always have our memories of the guy, and Stairs will always have his street.

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.