A’s options: Stephen Drew declined, Grant Balfour exercised

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Oakland has exercised its 2013 option on Grant Balfour, bringing the right-hander back for $4.5 million after he emerged as the team’s closer this season, but the A’s have declined their half of Stephen Drew’s mutual option for $10 million.

That makes Drew a free agent, although it’s possible the A’s could try to re-sign him in what is a pretty weak year for available shortstops. Drew hit .250 with five homers and a .707 OPS in 39 games for the A’s after struggling for the Diamondbacks. He gets a $1.35 million buyout.

Balfour had never saved more than four games in a season previously, but emerged as the A’s closer at age 34 and converted 24 saves with a 2.53 ERA in 75 innings. Combined during the past five seasons Balfour has a 2.78 ERA in 318 innings, striking out 9.6 batters per nine frames while holding opponents to a .191 batting average.

Hyun-Jin Ryu will open season in Dodgers’ rotation

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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu will open the regular season in the starting rotation, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports.

Ryu, 30, missed the entire 2015 season and made only one start last season due to shoulder and elbow injuries. The lefty has looked solid in three spring appearances, however, yielding a lone run on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in nine innings.

With Scott Kazmir likely to begin the season on the disabled list, that leaves Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy to battle it out for the fifth spot in the Dodgers’ rotation.

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.