Giants sign Wellemeyer to minor-league deal

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CSNBayArea.com’s Mychael Urban reports that the Giants have signed Todd Wellemeyer to a minor-league contract with an invite to spring training.
Wellemeyer was briefly one of Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan’s many success stories after being claimed off waivers from the Royals in mid-2007. Purely a reliever at that point, Wellemeyer moved into the Cardinals’ rotation and went 16-10 with a 3.70 ERA in 43 starts through the end of 2008.
Unfortunately his late-career mini-breakout was wrecked by elbow and shoulder problems last season and Wellemeyer went 7-10 with a 5.89 ERA while spending September back in the bullpen. He was initially optimistic about landing a guaranteed deal this offseason, but instead will have to fight for a gig.
The first four spots in San Francisco’s rotation are set in stone with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito, and Jonathan Sanchez, but if healthy Wellemeyer has a chance to claim the fifth spot assuming the Giants prefer to keep stud prospect Madison Bumgarner in the minors a bit longer. A good low-cost pickup for the Giants and a pretty good opportunity for Wellemeyer to get back on track at age 31.

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.

Report: Cardinals, Yadier Molina making “major progress” on contract extension

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.

Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.

Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.