Dodgers players could theoretically become free agents if the team misses payroll. But they won’t.

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There’s an item over at Bloomberg this afternoon that caused a bunch of people to email me with “Hey! Can we get Matt Kemp??!” messages. Thusly:

Los Angeles Dodgers players could file for free agency if the team can’t make payroll, Major League Baseball players union spokesman Greg Bouris said in an e-mail.

That is technically true, per the uniform player contract. If the team can’t pay, sure, they’re free agents.  But the team will never technically miss payroll because Major League Baseball would step in and pay the players.  Of this there is 100% certainty, because the only thing the other owners would hate more than footing the bill for Frank McCourt is 25 brand new free agents on the market in the middle of May.

So: thanks for the brief scare, Bloomberg, but next time feel free to add a touch of commentary to your technically-true but in this case misleading news item.

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.

Sandy Leon homered twice in one inning, including a grand slam

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Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.

Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.

How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.

As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.