The Braves to release Dan Uggla

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Joel Sherman of the New York Post and Ken Rosenthal of Fox more or less simultaneously reported that the Braves are expected to release Dan Uggla.

There was speculation about this over the weekend when the Braves had a roster crunch. That was alleviated by Uggla being suspended for one day due to showing up late to the ballpark (and possibly more; everyone was kinda cagey about it). But really, this was a long time coming. Uggla has lost his starting job and he has been utterly ineffective as a pinch-hitter. His inability to play elsewhere on defense means that, effectively, the Braves have been playing with a 24-man roster for weeks.

Uggla has hit just .175/.295/.332 since the beginning of last season. He’s owed around $19 million through the end of next season, so no one is going to claim him on waivers (if, in fact, he is designated for assignment instead of just given his outright release). It’s possible that someone may look at his power and his past and take a chance on him for the major league minimum — the Reds and Giants could both use help at second base — but after watching him every night for several years now, I’m gonna say that, nope, this dude has nothing to offer.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, me and all of the Braves fans are going to be having an Ewok-style Yub Nub party in which we play drums on all of Dan Uggla’s old batting helmets.

Yadier Molina will not enter contract negotiations during the 2017 season

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.

Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:

I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.

The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.

The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.

Colby Rasmus could start 2017 on the disabled list

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Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.

Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.

The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.