The Red Sox inquired about Royals’ closer Joakim Soria

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The Red Sox acquired right-hander Mark Melancon from the Astros earlier this week, but they aren’t done upgrading the back-end of their bullpen. According to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, they have spoken to the Royals about the availability of closer Joakim Soria.

Talks have failed to progress thus far, as Kansas City is seeking at least “a couple solid pieces” in return. Soria is locked in at a very reasonable rate, including a $6 million salary next season, an $8 million club option for 2013 and an $8.75 million club option for 2014. Per his limited no-trade clause, he would have to approve a deal to Boston.

Soria lost the closer’s role briefly this past season and finished with a career-high 4.04 ERA, but he also posted a solid 60/17 K/BB ratio over 60 1/3 innings while his velocity was right in line with his career average. The 27-year-old right-hander has a 2.40 ERA over five seasons in the big leagues, averaging 9.7 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.

Bradford hears that talks regarding Athletics’ closer Andrew Bailey are ongoing, though a deal would likely require a similarly heavy price tag.

Check out Minute Maid Park without Tal’s Hill

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During the offseason, the Astros finally got rid of Tal’s Hill in center field. It was a throwback to older stadiums, some of which had uneven topography — Crosley Field, namely. As unique as it was in the age of cookie cutter sports stadiums, most of us were holding our collective breaths hoping no one ruptured an Achilles or suffered another brutal injury trying to navigate the hill while attempting to catch a fly ball.

We saw what it looked like during reconstruction:

And now, via Julia Morales of ROOT Sports, we see what it looks like after all the work has been done:

The Astros are allowing fans with Lexus Field Club tickets to stand on the new warning track to watch batting practice and shag fly balls as well, Morales notes. Lexus Field Club is where Tal’s Hill used to be.

Good riddance, Tal’s Hill.

Jhoulys Chacin will start Opening Day for the Padres

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Jhoulys Chacin will start on Opening Day, April 3 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. It will be Chacin’s second Opening Day start, the other coming in 2013 with the Rockies against the Brewers. He’ll be the fifth different Padres pitcher in as many years to start on Opening Day.

Chacin, 29, inked a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Padres in December. The right-hander spent the 2016 season with the Braves and Angels, compiling an aggregate 4.81 ERA with a 119/55 K/BB ratio in 144 innings.

Lin notes that Chacin will be followed in the rotation by Clayton Richard and Jered Weaver. It will be an interesting rotation, to say the least, as it will arguably be the worst in baseball.