Three bidders left standing for Dodgers

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We’re getting close to the end here, folks.

Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times passes along word that the field of bidders for the Dodgers was narrowed down to three earlier today. They are:

  • The group led by hedge-fund billionaire Steven Cohen and philanthropist Patrick Soon-Shiong;
  • The group led by Magic Johnson and veteran MLB and NBA executive Stan Kasten; and
  • The group led by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke.

The group led by Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley and Tony Ressler, a minority investor with the Brewers, was eliminated. So was a bid by Stanley Gold and the family of the late Roy Disney.

We could have a resolution here pretty quickly, as MLB owners are expected to vote on the three remaining bidders early next week. Outgoing owner Frank McCourt has agreed to identify the winning bidder by April 1. Overall bids are reportedly in the range of $1.3-1.6 billion, which would establish a new record sale price for an American sports franchise.

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.