Jason Bay expected to retire

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We heard back in December that Jason Bay could be headed to Japan, but the veteran outfielder confirmed to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca today that his playing career is basically over.

Bay hasn’t filed any official papers yet, but he told Davidi that he can’t see a scenario where he will come back. While he was intrigued by the possibility of playing in Japan, he feels like this is a good opportunity to focus on his family.

Bay was released by the Mariners last August after he hit just .204/.298/.393 with 11 home runs and 20 RBI over 236 plate appearances. The 35-year-old compiled a .229/.314/.373 batting line after signing a four-year, $66 million deal with the Mets in December of 2009. The two-time All-Star will walk away from the game with a .266/.360/.481 lifetime batting line to go along with 222 home runs and 754 RBI. The Canada native won the National League Rookie of the Year Award with the Pirates in 2004.

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.