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Chase Utley to re-sign with Dodgers

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Free agent second baseman Chase Utley reportedly has a one-year contract in place with the Dodgers, says Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times. The club has not yet confirmed the deal or reported its terms.

The 2017 season will mark Utley’s third run with the Dodgers and 15th in the majors. Selecting a team looked like a laborious process for the veteran infielder, who was exclusively considering contending clubs and had narrowed the list to four teams on Thursday.

The 38-year-old polished off a two-year stint with the Dodgers in 2016, batting .252/.319/.396 with 14 home runs and a .716 OPS. It’s the best offensive output Utley has managed since his last All-Star season in 2014, but he figures to occupy a more limited role this year since the team traded for 30-year-old infielder Logan Forsythe last month.

While Utley adjusts to his part-time responsibilities on the field, his presence and leadership in the clubhouse should benefit at least one fellow infielder:

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.