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Report: Major League Baseball could have another lockout

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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that owners, frustrated by the pace of negotiations, could vote to lock out the players if they can’t come up with a new collective bargaining agreement by December 1. It could be the first work stoppage since April 2, 1995.

According to Rosenthal, the owners offered to eliminate direct draft pick compensation — a reason why players like Dexter Fowler and Ian Desmond had to wait until late February before signing prior to this past season — in exchange for an international draft. The players rejected the proposal, understandably.

The owners and the union are also at odds over the competitive balance tax and the Joint Drug Agreement, Rosenthal adds.

The last work stoppage, 21 years ago, lasted 232 days and canceled 948 games. Major League Baseball suffered a lack of interest after play resumed and many believe that the steroids-fueled home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa reinvigorated interest in the sport.

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.