Free agent reliever Jonathan Papelbon isn’t looking to sign with a team. Rather, he’s taking time to tend to a personal family matter according to his agent Seth Levinson, per Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe.
Papelbon, 36, struggled to a 4.37 ERA in 37 appearances this past season before being released by the Nationals in mid-August. He didn’t end up latching on with a new team. While Papelbon’s age and recent performance are detriments to his baseball future, so too is his personality. Papelbon attempted to choke then-teammate Bryce Harper in the dugout of a game against the Phillies near the end of the 2015 regular season. As a member of the Phillies in 2014, Papelbon was reprimanded for making a rude gesture towards fans after a poor relief performance.
Papelbon has 368 career saves, good for ninth all-time. If he decides to continue playing, he is close to surpassing Joe Nathan (377) and Dennis Eckersley (390).
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.
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.