UPDATE: First he signed, then he didn’t, then he signed and then he didn’t: Chien-Ming Wang’s agent is now saying that the reports are inaccurate, there is no deal with the Nats, and that Wang hasn’t finalized anything with anybody.
And with that, I’m officially out of the Wang business. He could carve his signature into a granite contract with a diamond-tipped chisel in front of 200 notaries public tomorrow and I won’t accept it as fact until I hear three pinky swears and a blood oath as to the deal’s veracity.
10:28 A.M.: There was a lot of back and forth yesterday about whether the Nats and Chien-Ming Wang had a deal or not. Pete Abraham said they did first, only to have some others say, no, no deal is in place. I had called these later reports “debunkings” but in hindsight that was a really poor choice of words, because it automatically assumed that the latest reports were right, and there was no reason to assume that. Why? For one thing Abraham, I later learned, is really tight with Wang’s camp and is trusted by people who know things to know what’s going on with him.
For another thing, it appears as though Abe was right. Last night the China Times reported that, yes, there is a $2 million deal with the chance of it getting to $3 million if certain incentives are met. Later Ken Davidoff of Newsday tweeted the same thing, and no one has since said anything to the contrary.
So apologies to Mr. Abraham and congratulations to Mr. Wang and the Nats, who I think will make a nice pairing.
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 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.