Rays and Joe Maddon on verge of three-year extension

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For weeks now the Rays and Joe Maddon have reportedly been close to finalizing a multi-year contract extension and now Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times says the new deal will be for three seasons and figures to be announced within a few days.

As for why they haven’t agreed to the deal yet, Topkin notes that Maddon has been vacationing in Europe and doesn’t return until later this week, at which point the two sides will want to make things official before pitchers and catchers start showing up to spring training.

Maddon has a 495-477 (.509) record in six seasons as Rays manager, including four straight winning seasons and three playoff appearances in the past four years, two of which resulted in him winning Manager of the Year. There’s a strong case to be made for Maddon as the league’s best manager and, much like Andrew Friedman turning down other general manager offers to remain in Tampa Bay, his wanting to stick with the Rays’ long term is crucial to the team continuing to thrive with small payrolls.

Hyun-Jin Ryu will open season in Dodgers’ rotation

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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu will open the regular season in the starting rotation, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports.

Ryu, 30, missed the entire 2015 season and made only one start last season due to shoulder and elbow injuries. The lefty has looked solid in three spring appearances, however, yielding a lone run on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in nine innings.

With Scott Kazmir likely to begin the season on the disabled list, that leaves Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy to battle it out for the fifth spot in the Dodgers’ rotation.

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.