UPDATE: Yankees downplay the Rafael Soriano thing. Not that it doesn’t make sense.

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UPDATE: Not so fast on the Soriano stuff.  Mark Feinsand just spoke to a Yankees official and he downplayed the idea, saying “the price is going to be too high.”  And it will be too high, objectively speaking, for a setup man.  But it’s not like the Yankees (a) couldn’t use the help in the pen; and (b) could’t afford it.  And as some of you mentioned in the comments section, filling out the pen could help shake Joba Chamberlain free for a trade.  I mean, sure, the Yankees don’t see him as a starter anymore, but someone might, and he could form the basis of a package that could get a useful starting pitcher in return.

3:59 PM: The arms race is getting out of control. The Red Sox get Jenks?  Fine. The Yankees want Rafael Soriano. Mark Feinsand of the Daily News:

According to a source with knowledge of the Yankees’ thinking, the Bombers are “exploring” the option of signing Soriano, the All-Star closer who pitched last year for the Rays. With plenty of money to spare in the wake of Cliff Lee’s return to Philadelphia, the Yankees have held preliminary discussions with Scott Boras about Soriano, the source said.

Soriano used to be the best setup guy in baseball. In New York he’d have that role again. And, if it was a three-year deal, he could be Mariano Rivera’s heir.

In other news, if the Yankees did get Soriano — and if the Red Sox don’t find a sucker to take Papelbon — they and the Sox would have four of the top eight closers — at least in terms of saves — from the 2010 season on their rosters.  Which is cool with me because (a) who cares about saves; and (b) both the Jenks and Soriano signings would address legitimate needs for each team, but you figure a lot of people will freak out about this.

Cardinals extend José Martínez through 2020

Jose Martinez
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First baseman/outfielder José Martínez agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Cardinals on Saturday, per a team announcement. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Martínez will receive $3.25 million in the deal plus incentives if he earns a more stable place within the starting lineup.

Martínez, 30, played 887 games in the minors before making his major-league debut with the Cardinals at the tail end of the 2016 season. The veteran first baseman has been nothing but productive in the three years since his debut, however, and turned in a career-best performance in 2018 after slashing .305/.364/.457 with 17 home runs, an .821 OPS, and 2.3 fWAR through 590 plate appearances. While he brings some positional flexibility to the table, he’ll be forced to compete against Dexter Fowler and Tyler O'Neill for a full-time gig in right field this year, as Paul Goldschmidt currently has a lock on first base.

According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the extension wasn’t solely precipitated by Martínez’s productivity in the majors, but by a competing offer from an unnamed Japanese team over the offseason. Goold adds that Martínez would have earned “significantly more than he would in the majors” had the club sold his rights. In the end, they ultimately elected to ink him to a more lucrative deal themselves. He’ll be eligible for arbitration in 2020.