Yadier Molina headed to disabled list with right knee sprain

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The biggest series in PNC Park history is off to a promising start. For the home team, that is.

The Cardinals entered the five-game set with a 1 1/2-game lead over the Pirates in the National League Central standings and are now 1 1/2 games back after three straight losses. But wait. There’s more.

According to MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch, Yadier Molina was lifted in the fourth inning of Tuesday night’s 6-0 defeat with what’s being called a right knee sprain. Yadi allowed a rare passed ball in the second inning and did not even attempt a throw on a runner stealing second base a few pitches earlier.

The Cardinals are going to reevaluate the five-time Gold Glove winner on Wednesday morning. It seems highly possible that Tony Cruz and Rob Johnson will have to finish out this crucial series in Pittsburgh.

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UPDATE, 11:33 p.m. ET: Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Molina is headed back to St. Louis for an MRI on his right knee. He is expected to be placed on the 15-day disabled list.

The Nationals expect Bryce Harper to test free agency

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Earlier this week at the Winter Meetings, Scott Boras said that he and the Washington Nationals had had preliminary discussions about a contract extension for Bryce Harper. Harper, of course, can become a free agent following the 2018 season and is widely expected to command the largest contract in baseball history.

While that may have given some Nationals fans hope that no other team would get the chance to bid on him, the Nationals are of the view that they have no shot to sign Harper before he at least tests the free agent market. From USA Today’s Bob Nightengale:

A lot of this seems like mutual posturing, doesn’t it? Boras trying to make it appear as though the he and Harper are giving the Nats a fair hearing and the Nats trying to make it appear as though, no matter what they do, Harper is going to hit the market. I tend to believe, personally, that Boras and Harper are hellbent on testing the market, but it’s possible that there is some number that the Nats can offer to head that off, right? Maybe?

Either way: big year ahead for Harper.