Evan Longoria, Carlos Corporan

2012 OPS projections: top 10 third basemen

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My top 10 third basemen, by OPS:

.943 – Evan Longoria (Rays) – 566 AB – .850 in 2011
.901 – Alex Rodriguez (Yankees) – 523 AB – .823 in 2011
.885 – Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals) – 571 AB – .798 in 2011
.871 – David Wright (Mets) – 597 AB – .771 in 2011
.868 – Kevin Youkilis (Red Sox) – 488 AB – .833 in 2011
.868 – Pablo Sandoval (Giants) – 565 AB – .909 in 2011
.854 – Aramis Ramirez (Brewers) – 511 AB – .871 in 2011
.841 – Edwin Encarnacion (Blue Jays) – 532 AB – .787 in 2011
.836 – Adrian Beltre (Rangers) – 573 AB – .892 in 2011
.826 – Brett Lawrie (Blue Jays) – 559 AB – .953 in 2011

– The big-name third basemen were largely disappointments last season, with injuries taking a toll in numerous cases. I’m expecting a lot more from most of them this year. Longoria and Zimmerman, at least, should both still be on the upswings of their careers. I’m not sure Wright is, but the changes at Citi Field should help him in the power department.

– Mark Reynolds (.823) and David Freese (.808) were the other third basemen to come in over .800. I know a lot of people will be quite high on Freese after his big postseason, but he has an extensive injury history and Busch Stadium is as tough of a park on right-handed power hitters as any in the NL.

– The Royals’ Mike Moustakas was further back. I expect him to hit for more power as a sophomore, but my guess is that it’ll be another year or two before he starts hitting for average. I have him at .268/.316/.426 with 17 homers in 556 at-bats.

– At the bottom of the list are Chone Figgins (.652 in 343 at-bats) and Juan Uribe (.680 in 389 at-bats).

Report: Cardinals are scouting Cuban outfielder Luis Robert

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.

There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.

Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.

Cubs extend Pedro Strop through 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 25:  Pedro Strop #46 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game One of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.

Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.

The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.

Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.