Yadier Molina on looming free agency: “It’s business”

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It doesn’t sound like Yadier Molina is planning to offer the Cardinals much of a hometown discount in negotiations toward a long-term contract extension.

The 29-year-old catcher, who is currently slated to become a free agent five days after the conclusion of the 2012 World Series, spoke Thursday evening with Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“I love the city. I love the fans, I love the park,” said Molina. “But it’s out of my hands. Whatever they like to do is how it is. … They let Albert [Pujols] go. It’s business for the team, too. It’s out of my hands.”

Molina is regarded as one of the best — if not the best — defensive catchers in baseball. He also had a breakout season at the plate in 2011, batting .305 with a career-high .814 OPS, 14 home runs and 65 RBI in 518 plate appearances. With an equally strong 2012, he could attract a ton of interest on the open market.

Hideki Matsui thinks Shohei Otani should pitch and hit in MLB

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Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.

Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”

Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.

The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.