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Lorenzo Cain wants a long-term deal with the Royals

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Royals’ center fielder Lorenzo Cain isn’t looking forward to hitting free agency after the 2017 season. Comments made to MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan suggest that he’d rather sign another extension with the club, preferably one that will keep him in Kansas City on a long-term basis.

While the Royals have prioritized negotiations with infielders Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer this offseason, no long-term arrangement appears to be on the table for Cain just yet. By this time last year, the outfielder had already netted a two-year extension with the team, albeit under wildly different circumstances. The Royals were fresh off of a World Series championship and a career-best year from Cain, who amassed a team-leading 6.4 fWAR during the regular season.

In 2016, the 30-year-old saw a significant dip in his production value after sustaining a wrist sprain that kept him sidelined through most of the second half of the season. He batted .287/.339/.408 with nine home runs and 2.4 fWAR in 434 PA, well down from the marks that earned him an All-Star nomination and MVP bid the year before.

One lackluster year shouldn’t sour the team’s opinion of their star center fielder, however, especially given Cain’s relative health and steady value over the past six seasons. Although he claims to have worked his way back up to full strength this spring, the team doesn’t appear in any rush to make a commitment past the 2017 season, and time is running out to negotiate a deal before Opening Day.

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.