Ron Washington will be back as Rangers manager in 2014

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The Rangers won two pennants under Ron Washington, but after a division title-costing late-season fade two years in row and after last night’s loss to the Rays, some folks may have suspected that his job was in jeopardy. Not so:

 

Which is probably the right call.

Washington is not the world’s best tactical manager, but the Rangers’ flaws haven’t been one of tactics of late. At least primarily. The silent bats speak to a lack of power threats beyond Adrian Beltre and last night it seemed half the lineup was limping. Meanwhile, it’s a team that still appears from the outside to have a lot of respect for its manager.

The Rangers season ended sooner than they hoped, but the situation is not broken there. No sense in making any needless fixes.

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.