Mets considering Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano as potential R.A. Dickey replacements

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The Mets jumped at the chance to trade R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays earlier this week in exchange for catchers Travis d’Arnaud and John Buck, prospect right-hander Noah Syndergaard and prospect outfielder Wuilmer Becerra. While it’s a tall order, they now need to find a way to replace the 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner in their starting rotation.

With that in mind, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports that the Mets have reached out to the agents for Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano, among “many others.” Liriano, 29, had a 5.34 ERA and 167/87 K/BB ratio over 156 2/3 innings this past season between the Twins and White Sox. Pavano will likely come cheaper after being limited to just six starts in 2012 due to a nagging shoulder injury.

As of now, Johan Santana, Jon Niese, Matt Harvey and Dillon Gee are locks for the starting rotation while young arms like Jenrry Mejia, Jeremy Hefner and Collin McHugh are among the internal candidates for the fifth spot. Santana and Gee are both coming off injuries and Harvey has never pitched a full season in the majors, so chances are they’ll add a veteran arm, even if it’s just as simple as bringing back Chris Young. The hope is that prospect right-hander Zack Wheeler will be ready to take a rotation spot at some point in 2013.

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.