The Red Sox inquired about Royals’ closer Joakim Soria

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The Red Sox acquired right-hander Mark Melancon from the Astros earlier this week, but they aren’t done upgrading the back-end of their bullpen. According to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, they have spoken to the Royals about the availability of closer Joakim Soria.

Talks have failed to progress thus far, as Kansas City is seeking at least “a couple solid pieces” in return. Soria is locked in at a very reasonable rate, including a $6 million salary next season, an $8 million club option for 2013 and an $8.75 million club option for 2014. Per his limited no-trade clause, he would have to approve a deal to Boston.

Soria lost the closer’s role briefly this past season and finished with a career-high 4.04 ERA, but he also posted a solid 60/17 K/BB ratio over 60 1/3 innings while his velocity was right in line with his career average. The 27-year-old right-hander has a 2.40 ERA over five seasons in the big leagues, averaging 9.7 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.

Bradford hears that talks regarding Athletics’ closer Andrew Bailey are ongoing, though a deal would likely require a similarly heavy price tag.

Cardinals tab Miles Mikolas for Opening Day start

Miles Mikolas
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The Cardinals have selected right-hander Miles Mikolas as their Opening Day starter, the club revealed Saturday. It’ll mark the first career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who is scheduled to go up against the Brewers when the team hits the road on March 28.

The 29-year-old righty was a strong contender for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, earning All-Star distinctions and pitching to a career-best 18-4 record with a 2.83 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 6.5 SO/9, and 4.3 fWAR over 200 2/3 innings. He’s positioned to lead the Cardinals rotation in 2019 as well, with former Opening Day starters Carlos Martínez and Adam Wainwright and some combination of right-handers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and John Gant behind him.

Manager Mike Shildt told reporters that Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, and Martínez had all been considered for the honor, but admitted that Opening Day honors were ultimately handed to Mikolas “in recognition of [his performance] last year.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play a four-game set against the Brewers to start the season and will stop over in Pittsburgh for another two games before returning to St. Louis for their opening homestand against the Padres on April 4. Additional pitching assignments have yet to be announced.