Red Sox to begin extension talks with Dustin Pedroia

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The Red Sox have plenty of holes to fill on their roster this winter, but they hope to make some time to keep one of their cornerstone players in the fold for the long haul.

Joe McDonald of ESPN Boston was told by several league sources that the Red Sox plan to discuss a possible contract extension with Dustin Pedroia this offseason. Pedroia’s current deal runs through 2014 and includes a club option for 2015, so there are more pressing matters on Ben Cherington’s plate at the moment, but McDonald writes that the Red Sox “have already decided it would be in their best interest” to talk to Pedroia this winter.

One possible motivation here is that Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano will be a free agent next offseason and is expected to command north of $200 million. If the Red Sox wait, Cano’s contract will almost certainly have a direct impact on Pedroia’s asking price.

Pedroia batted .290/.347/.449 with 15 home runs, 65 RBI and a .797 OPS in 141 games this season. The 29-year-old had surgery in October to repair a torn ligament in his right pinkie finger, but he’s expected to be ready for spring training.

Robinson Cano hit his 300th home run last night

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Last night Robinson Cano hit a solo homer in the ninth inning of the Mariners’ loss to the Texas Rangers. It was his 22nd on the season. Though it was insignificant to the outcome of that game, it was significant to Cano: it was his 300th career homer.

While we’ve become accustomed to not caring much about home run milestones south of, say, 500, 300 homers for Cano is a big deal, as he’s only the third second baseman to cross that threshold in baseball history. The other two: Jeff Kent, at 377, and Rogers Hornsby at 301.

Cano, who turns 35 next month, has a career line of .305/.354/.495 and 1,179 RBI, 512 doubles and 33 triples to go with those bombs. He’s in his 13th big league season and still has six more years left on his deal with the Mariners. He’s averaged 24 homers a year since coming to the Mariners. While he’ll obviously trail off at some point — and while great second baseman’s have this weird habit of just suddenly falling off a cliff — it’s highly likely that he’ll finish his career as the all-time home run leader among second baseman. If he remains healthy he should also get over 3,000 hits in his career.

Cooperstown, here he comes.

Reds sign catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year deal

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Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds have signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year contract extension. The terms: $16 million total, with a $7.5 million club option for the 2022 season that has a $500,000 buyout. He also received a $1.75 million signing bonus.

The deal buys out all three of his arbitration years — he was going to be eligible for the first time this offseason — and the first year of his potential free agency. The club option buys a second. Barnhart made $575,000 this season.

Barnhart, 26, is finishing his second season as the Reds primary catcher. This year he’s hitting .272/.349/.399 with six homers and 42 RBI in 113 games. For his career he has a line of .257/.328/.366 in 330 major league games. His real value is defensive, however. He leads the National League in caught stealing percentage and number of base stealers caught (31-for-70, 44%) and leads all players at any position in the league in defensive WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com.