Rays bring back Jose Molina for two years, $4.5 million

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Jose Molina’s ability to frame pitches will keep him in the league for at least another couple of years. According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, he and the Rays have come to terms on a two-year, $4.5 million contract.

The 38-year-old Molina doesn’t bring much else to the table at this point. He hit .228/.288/.318 with 10 homers and 50 RBI over 201 games in his first two seasons with the Rays. In 2013, there were a career-high 56 steals on his watch, though he did catch a respectable 29 percent of runners. He also tied his personal high of eight passed balls and finished with the second highest total of wild pitches allowed (33) in his career.

But, again, he sure can frame a pitch, and thanks to the gullibility of umpires league-wide, that apparently has enough value to make up for everything he no longer does very well.

The Rays’ plan will again be to have Molina and Jose Lobaton split time fairly evenly behind the plate. Molina started 87 games at catcher last season and 80 in 2012.

Ian Kinsler lists the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central

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Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.

Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list

Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.

Angels demote C.J. Cron to Triple-A

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Angels first baseman C.J. Cron hit a grand slam against the Mets on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to keep his spot on the major league roster as the club announced his demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday. Infielder Nolan Fantana has been promoted from Salt Lake.

Cron, 27, was hitting a disappointing .232/.281/.305 with one home run and RBI in 90 plate appearances. I guess you can say that wasn’t the kind of Cron job the Angels were expecting. Cron was an above-average hitter in each of his first three seasons, finishing with an OPS+, or adjusted OPS, of 111, 106, and 115 (100 is average).

While Cron is figuring things out in the minors, Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte, and Albert Pujols could each see some time at first base.