Hey, Cliff Lee is scheduled to start against the Yankees tonight!

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The deal is not done yet, but to my knowledge — and the knowledge of any number of New York people I asked this morning — Joel Sherman has never really whiffed with one of these kinds of reports.  It’s never 100% safe to call a deal done before it actually is, but the odds are better on this one than you usually see, given the reporter in question.

So, if it does happen today, what do the Yankees do about the fact that Cliff Lee is scheduled to start tonight?  Would they dare keep him on schedule and have him go against the Mariners in their own park, mere hours after the deal?  Kind of awkward, ain’t it?

Sherman says no.  His sources are telling him that the Yankees and Mariners “may have a gentleman’s agreement” to not have him start at all this series so as not to embarrass the Mariners in their own park. It’s not clear, though, if, in the event dickering over the deal goes past start time of tonight’s game, whether the Mariners would start Lee against the guys who could be his teammates at any moment.

Hurm.

If Lee does start, would a bad start cause people to freak out and launch conspiracy theories that the fix was in? If he doesn’t make the start, would it cause people — mostly people in Boston and Tampa — to freak out about the Mariners basically giving the Yankees a night off? And heck, if he is traded to the Yankees before tonight’s game and he doesn’t start all weekend, what happens if the Yankees get beat three times and end up losing the division by a game or two? I imagine then that the Yankees fans would freak.

In the words of the immortal Johnny Caspar, it’s an interesting ettickal dilemma.

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.