Randy Messenger sets a November 15 deadline for offers from major league teams

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Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports provides the story:

Right-hander Randy Messenger, who has spent the last three seasons dominating Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan for the Hanshin Tigers, has set a Nov. 15 deadline to entertain offers from major league teams, said his agent, Matt Sosnick.

Messenger truly has been exceptional in Nippon Professional Baseball, boasting three straight sub-3.00 ERA seasons. He led the Central League in innings pitched this year with 196 1/3 and strikeouts with 183. The 32-year-old native of Reno, Nevada has a standing three-year contract offer to return to the Hanshin Tigers that carries $10 million in guaranteed money and another $5 million in performance-based incentives, according to Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors.

Messenger wants a guaranteed two-year contract in the $8-10 million range to return state-side.

He was an 11th-round draft pick of the Marlins back in 1999 and made a total of 173 appearances in Major League Baseball (for Miami, San Francisco and Seattle) before taking his talents over to Japan.

HardballTalk’s Matthew Pouliot ranked him 46th on the official HBT Top 150 Free Agents list.

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.

Sandy Leon homered twice in one inning, including a grand slam

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Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.

Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.

How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.

As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.