Orioles land Bud Norris from Astros

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FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Orioles are in the process of finalizing a deal that would net them Bud Norris from Houston in return for outfielder L.J. Hoes and a second player. The Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly says the second player is left-hander Josh Hader. The Astros will also get a competitive balance pick from the Orioles that should come in around 40th overall in next year’s draft.

Rosenthal says the Orioles beat out the Diamondbacks for Norris’s services.

Norris figures to bump Jason Hammel from a Baltimore rotation that also includes Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen and Scott Feldman. Norris is 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA and a 90/43 K/BB ratio in 126 innings for the Astros this season. He’s making $3 million this year in his first year of arbitration and he’s under control through 2016.

Hoes, 23, was just called up by the Orioles this week after hitting .304/.406/.403 with three homers and seven steals in 365 at-bats for Triple-A Norfolk. The former second baseman doesn’t have the power one wants from a corner outfielder, but he might be a useful part-timer with his on-base skills. The Astros could stick him right on the major league roster after sending Justin Maxwell to Kansas City earlier this afternoon.

Hader, 19, was 3-6 with a 2.65 ERA and a 79/42 K/BB ratio in 85 innings for low Single-A Delmarva this season. He was a 19th-round pick last year, and MLB.com rated him as the Orioles’ No. 5 prospect at midseason.

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.