Darren Oliver isn’t retiring, will pitch for the Blue Jays

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Darren Oliver told the Blue Jays he’d retire if they didn’t give him a raise on his $3 million contract or trade him to the Rangers, but they never caved into his demands and now the 42-year-old reliever is coming back to pitch in 2013 … for Toronto.

The team made an official announcement today, although I suppose that doesn’t preclude them from trading Oliver at some point. It just means he no longer has any real leverage, although considering how the Blue Jays let the whole situation play out it’s debatable if he had any leverage in the first place.

While the whole “raise, trade, or quit” scenario was a very interesting storyline, it’s also worth noting that Oliver is still a very effective pitcher and adding him back to the bullpen shouldn’t be overlooked for the Blue Jays. Last season Oliver threw 57 innings with a 2.06 ERA and 52/15 K/BB ratio and he’s posted an ERA under 3.00 in five straight seasons.

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.