Report: Brewers have deal for Counsell

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According to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Brewers have a tentative agreement in place to re-sign free agent infielder Craig Counsell.
The 39-year-old Counsell was believed to be seeking a two-year contract
this winter, but the length and terms of the new contract are not yet
known.




Counsell came out of nowhere in 2009
to provide his most productive season since 2005, batting
.285/.357/.408 with four home runs, 39 RBI and 61 runs scored in 130
games — again, his heaviest workload since the 2005 season. With the
wrist injury to Rickie Weeks, the slumping J.J. Hardy and the hot
corner in flux, Counsell made 44 starts at second base, 19 starts at
shortstop and 27 starts at third base.




If Counsell plays in 130 games again
next season, it will likely mean that something went very wrong in the
Milwaukee infield for a second straight season, but he’s fine insurance
as a utility man. Counsell reportedly received interest from upwards of
ten teams, and he probably could have started elsewhere (Reds?), but
there was little doubt that the Milwaukee-native would eventually
decide to return.

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.