Mystery Team Alert: Albert Pujols edition

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We know the Marlins have made an offer to Albert Pujols.  And we know that the Cardinals, obviously, are continuing to talk to him.  Both Tim Brown of Yahoo! and Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch say, however, that at least three teams are “actively jockeying” for El Hombre.

No one knows the third team, however, so it’s … the Mystery Team.

Just want to go on record how mad I still am over the fact that Heyman ended up being right about the Mystery Team being interested in Cliff Lee last year.  Was way more fun when the Mystery Team didn’t exist outside of agents’ weird leverage-creation scenarios. But now we know they do. And it can be anyone.  And now they’re talking to Albert Pujols.

Hard to say who it could be. The Rangers and Dodgers have said they’re out. Maybe the Orioles have delusions of grandeur. Maybe the Cubs are going to get in on that.  Hard to say.  It all probably doesn’t matter. There have been reports — shot down by others, but reports all the same — that the Cardinals and Pujols are close to a deal and it will be announced tomorrow.

But that’s what we all thought about Cliff Lee too. Before we were overtaken by mystery.

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.