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The Mariners want in on free agent Mike Napoli

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First baseman Mike Napoli has attracted a number of suitors this offseason after mashing 34 home runs and an .800 OPS with the Indians in 2016. According to ESPN’s Jim Bowden, the Mariners are the latest to inquire about the 35-year-old’s bat, which could give the Indians some stiff competition as they look to re-sign him for 2017.

Napoli entered free agency earlier this month after the Indians chose not to extend him a $17.2 million qualifying offer. He signed a one-year, $7 million deal with Cleveland prior to the 2016 season and slashed .239/.335/.465 with 101 RBI in 557 PA with the club, a career-high mark for the veteran infielder.

Napoli is no stranger to the AL West, where he spent the better part of eight seasons with the Angels and Rangers. In Seattle, he could give the Mariners another right-handed bat to work with, which has been something of a priority for Mariners’ GM Jerry Dipoto this offseason. Carving out a spot in the lineup might be challenging, however, with Nelson Cruz pegged for the DH spot and Dan Vogelbach sharing first base duties with Danny Valencia.

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.