The Nationals added De Jon Watson to their pro scouting department on Friday, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. Watson will serve as a special assistant to Washington GM Mike Rizzo.
No stranger to the National League, Watson worked as the senior vice president of baseball operations in the Diamondbacks’ front office from 2015 – 2016 after spending eight years within the Dodgers’ organization. He managed the Diamondbacks’ scouting and player development programs and was instrumental in bringing in international talent during the 2016 season, Collier reports. The club did not pick up his contract this offseason.
Although the Nationals are expected to utilize Watson in developing their own international talent, he won’t be the only special assistant advising Rizzo during the 2017 season. Mark Zuckerman of MASNSports.com points out that Rizzo kept a staff of 10 special assistants in 2016, including Steve Arnieri, Chuck Cottier, Mike Cubbage, Michael Daughtry, Jay Robertson, Bob Schaefer, Terry Wetzel, Jeff Zone, and Dan Jennings.
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.