In bizarre fashion, Jose Valverde’s meltdown pays off for Tigers

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For all of the drama, Detroit pulled out Saturday’s Game 1 by a 6-4 score in 12 innings. And thanks to Jose Valverde’s four-run ninth inning, the Tigers…

– were able to extend the Yankees pen prior to Hiroki Kuroda making his first ever start on three days’ rest on Sunday. Rafael Soriano and David Robertson both worked in extras. So did David Phelps, who would have been the long man Sunday had Kuroda struggled.

– hopefully guaranteed that Valverde will never work in another close game in the series. Valverde doesn’t seem to be deceiving anyone with his 92-94 mph fastball at the moment and he’s been struggling with his splitter for months. That Valverde was so awful in blowing his second straight lead should mean Jim Leyland will give Al Alburquerque and Octavio Dotel increased responsibility going forward, which is a very good thing for the Tigers.

The extra-inning game also resulted in Derek Jeter’s fractured ankle, putting him out for the postseason. The Tigers don’t want any credit for that, and they’d surely rather have beaten the Yankees at their best. That said, it certainly helps their chances of winning the ALCS that the Yankees will be without their captain the rest of the way.

Yadier Molina will not enter contract negotiations during the 2017 season

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.

Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:

I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.

The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.

The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.

Colby Rasmus could start 2017 on the disabled list

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Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.

Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.

The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.