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Report: Cardinals are open to re-signing Juan Nicasio

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals have already begun talks with right-handed reliever Juan Nicasio about a multi-year extension, though no deal is expected to come to fruition until the offseason. The 31-year-old righty was traded to the Cardinals for Phillies’ reliever Eliezer Alvarez in September and stands to earn $3.65 million in 2017 before becoming a free agent this fall.

There’s interest on both sides, Goold adds, which seems obvious given the right-hander’s career-best numbers this year. He made nine appearances for the club over the last month of the season, recording four saves and maintaining a 1.64 ERA, 1.6 BB/9 and 9.0 SO/9 over 11 innings. In back-to-back-to-back stints with the Pirates, Phillies and Cardinals, Nicasio incurred a cumulative 1.4 fWAR — just a smidgen under his career-best 1.8 mark from 2013.

The only potential hitch in a long-term deal is the matter of Nicasio’s role with the team. He converted to a full-time bullpen role earlier in the year and is looking for consistent closing opportunities, whether those come in St. Louis or elsewhere in the league. That’s not something the Cardinals can guarantee, Goold points out, but they may give him more leeway in the bullpen than another major league suitor would be inclined to do.

Of course, it’s not all about the saves. The Cardinals are two seasons removed from their last playoff run and made a concerted effort to go for the division title again this year. It’s not inconceivable that they would be in a position to offer Nicasio a ticket to the playoffs in the near future. “I would definitely like to come back,” Nicasio told reporters on Saturday. “This is a winning franchise and a team that has had a lot of success, and I would like to come back for another year or however long they’d like to extend me and hopefully win a championship.”

Baseball to honor Stoneman Douglas High School as spring training games begin

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There were a few exhibitions against college teams yesterday but today the Grapefruit League and Cactus League schedules begin in earnest, with big league teams, more or less, facing big league team, more or less.

The baseball will look like baseball, but the teams will be wearing different caps today: black caps with the maroon “SD” of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting on February 14.

All teams and umpire crews will wear the caps pre-game, and they have the option to wear the caps during the games. The only two teams not playing today — the Royals and Rangers — will wear them tomorrow.

After the games players will sign the caps and they will be auctioned off to raise money for the Broward Education Foundation, which benefits the official Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund.

Here’s today’s schedule: