Diamondbacks interested in free agent right-hander Brandon McCarthy

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Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic passes along word that the Diamondbacks have expressed interest in free agent right-hander Brandon McCarthy. The D’Backs actually pursued McCarthy two years ago before he latched on with the A’s, though he’s obviously a different pitcher now than he was back then.

McCarthy posted a 3.24 ERA and 73/24 K/BB ratio over 111 innings with the A’s this season prior to being hit in the head by a line drive on September 5 and undergoing emergency brain surgery. The 29-year-old right-hander was cleared to resume baseball activities earlier this month and is slated to begin throwing in December.

Piecoro speculated about the possibility of McCarthy earlier this week and noted that Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers isn’t willing to go beyond two years for a starting pitcher. There are concerns about McCarthy’s history of shoulder issues, but he should be able to land a multi-year deal in this market.

 

 

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.

Sandy Leon homered twice in one inning, including a grand slam

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Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.

Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.

How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.

As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.