Angels never made strong push for Zack Greinke, dropped out of bidding in early November

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At the beginning of the offseason the Angels shed Ervin Santana and Dan Haren from the payroll, seemingly to prepare to break the bank re-signing Zack Greinke. There were even articles suggesting re-signing Greinke was the entire focus of their offseason plan.

And yet the Angels dropped out of the Greinke bidding weeks before he officially signed a six-year, $147 million deal with the Dodgers and at his introductory press conference in Los Angeles yesterday Greinke revealed that the Angels never really even made a serious run at him:

I’m not mad about it, and I don’t think they’re mad about how I went about things, either. They kept in contact the whole time, but when the details came, we never really got into it much with them.

Greinke’s agent, Casey Close, revealed that the Angels essentially ceased trying to re-sign Greinke “in early November.” They traded for Tommy Hanson on November 30 and signed Joe Blanton on December 5.

All of which suggests that either the Angels never really expected to re-sign Greinke in the first place or dramatically under-estimated what sort of offers he’d get from other teams as a free agent. Either way, they ended up losing Greinke, Haren, and Santana while adding Blanton and Hanson to the rotation.

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.