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The Twins DFA’d Byung Ho Park

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This was not expected: the Minnesota Twins have designated DH Byung Ho Park for assignment. They did so in order to clear a roster spot for reliever Matt Belisle.

Park had an awful first year with the Twins, hitting .191/.275/.409 in 62 games and getting hit with some injuries. He’s signed to a four-year, $12 million deal. That salary is not astronomical, but even $3 million a year is too much to ask for a guy who has not demonstrated the ability to hit big league pitching yet, so he’ll likely clear waivers and either be released or accept a minor league assignment.

As for the Twins’ DH situation: it’ll probably be Kennys Vargas most of the time, with Joe Mauer getting spelled there on occasion. Of course there was talk earlier this week of the Twins possibly signing Justin Morneau, so he could fit in as well.

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.