Angels sign Ian Stewart to a minor league deal

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Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register is reporting that the Angels have signed infielder Ian Stewart to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. Stewart has had a rough go of it on the field over the last few years, but found himself in hot water last June when he went on Twitter and complained about how the Cubs were using him.

Stewart posted a .464 OPS in 136 plate appearances with the Rockies in 2011. He also missed time with a wrist injury and moved back and forth between the Majors and Triple-A Colorado Springs a couple times. After the season, the Cubs signed him as a free agent, but Stewart posted a meager .627 OPS in 202 plate appearances. In June, he suffered a wrist injury and went under the knife in July, ending his season.

Last season, Stewart strained his quadriceps early in spring training and missed the start of the season with Triple-A Iowa. He posted just a .657 OPS at Triple-A with the Cubs. They released Stewart in early July after he went public with his criticism. The Dodgers picked him up, but the results weren’t any better. With Triple-A Albuquerque, Stewart posted a .638 OPS.

While Stewart has spent a majority of his career at third base, he has experience playing second base and he can play either outfield corner or first base in a pinch. On a no-risk deal, it’s difficult to see the downside for the Angels, even with Stewart’s questionable history in terms of health, production, and behavior.

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.