Entering Saturday’s action, every AL East team has a negative run differential

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On Saturday morning, ESPN’s Buster Olney passed along the interesting fact that all five teams in the American League East has a negative run differential. The first-place Yankees are tied for the worst differential at -10 with the Red Sox, while the second-place Orioles are at -1, the third-place Blue Jays are at -6, and the last-place Rays are at -2.

It’s still early so run differential doesn’t mean a whole lot. But over a larger sample of games, run differential correlates strongly to winning baseball games. By this simple arithmetic function, we can conclude with a large grain of salt that the five AL East teams have played no better than average baseball to begin the season.

The only other division with three teams in the red in run differential is the AL West. The Rangers (-2), Mariners (-6), and the Astros (-51) have played subpar baseball. It’s… a bit of an understatement for the Astros.

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.