Astros claim Fernando Martinez off waivers from Mets

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As expected, Fernando Martinez didn’t make it very far on the waiver wire after being dropped from the 40-man roster by the Mets earlier this week. One spot, in fact.

Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the 23-year-old former top prospect was snatched up by the Astros, who have the No. 1 waiver priority by virtue of their MLB-worst 56-106 record last season.

Martinez’s stock has plummeted during the past couple years because of chronic knee problems and mediocre production in the minors, but he’s certainly still worth taking a flier on for a rebuilding, talent-starved team like the Astros.

Mets fans are no doubt frustrated to lose Martinez for nothing after years of seeing him rumored to be the centerpiece of various blockbuster trade possibilities, but at this point his value is pretty marginal and general manager Sandy Alderson surely tried to get something in return for him via trade before placing him on waivers.

Blame injuries and the previous regime’s maddening tendency to rush top prospects through the minors. Or the fact that even the best prospects fail to pan out half the time, especially when the hype machine starts as a teenager.

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.