Royals expected to decline Joakim Soria’s option for 2013

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Joakim Soria took a big step in his recovery from Tommy John elbow surgery by throwing yesterday for the first time, but with his status for the beginning of next season still uncertain Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports that the Royals “are expected to exercise a $750,000 buyout clause” of his $8 million option.

That would make Soria a very interesting free agent, because he’s just 28 years old and was one of the truly elite relievers in baseball from 2007-2011. Dutton notes that “both sides have expressed interest in working out a new deal” but it seems likely that Soria would at least want to test the market and see if there are any teams willing to offer him multi-year deals.

Among all active pitchers with at least 250 career innings Soria ranks third in opponents’ OPS (.579), fifth in ERA (2.40), and ninth in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.92).

Red Sox to extend protective netting at Fenway Park in 2018

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The Red Sox are the latest team to extend the protective netting at their ballpark this winter. According to a statement by club president Sam Kennedy, the exact dimensions of the netting have yet to be determined, but it will likely stretch “all the way to Field Box 79, down the left field line and then all the way down to almost Canvas Alley in the Field Box 9 area.”

Fenway Park received additional protective netting prior to the 2016 season, when the netting behind home plate was lengthened to the home and visitor dugouts. Per Kennedy’s statement, the current expansion should cover everything but the outfield corners, making it nearly impossible for a line drive foul to reach fans in the lower boxes.

After a toddler sustained serious injuries from a 105-MPH foul ball to the face at Yankee Stadium last September, over half of all MLB teams decided to take more extreme preventative measures in advance of the 2018 season. The Brewers, Cardinals, Braves, Astros, Royals, Pirates, Rangers, Padres, Nationals, Mariners, Phillies, Mets, Reds, Blue Jays, Giants, Yankees, Twins and Indians are among the organizations to address the issue over the last several years, while others have yet to take significant action.