Francisco Liriano expected to sign with the Pirates

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Francisco Liriano has agreed to a two-year, $14 million contract with the Pirates, according to LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Liriano was briefly booted from Minnesota’s rotation in May after posting a 9.45 ERA through six starts and then put together a fantastic two-month stretch upon rejoining the rotation, throwing 66 innings with a 3.68 ERA and 79/29 K/BB ratio before the Twins traded him to the White Sox for a pair of non-prospects in late July.

Liriano was mostly sub par in Chicago, posting a 5.40 ERA in 57 innings, and finished the year with a 5.34 ERA in 157 total frames. However, he racked up 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings and, as always, if someone can get Liriano to throw strikes consistently and trust his raw stuff the 29-year-old left-hander still has plenty of upside.

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.

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.