Rays to exercise $1.5 million option on Jose Molina

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From Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times comes word that the Rays are planning to exercise catcher Jose Molina’s $1.8 million club option for the 2013 season. It was that or pay a $300,000 buyout.

Molina batted .223/.286/.355 with eight home runs and 32 RBI in 102 games this season for the Rays while playing his usual brand of steady defense. He had a .281/.342/.415 slash line in 2011 with Toronto.

The 37-year-old brother of Bengie and Yadier seems likely to serve as a backup for Tampa Bay again in 2013, but he could take on a more involved role if the Rays can’t find themselves a front-line catcher on the open market this winter. There won’t be many available.

Molina has a .618 career OPS against righties and a .662 OPS against lefties, so a platoon is a possibility.

Report: Astros, Michael Brantley agree to two-year, $32 million contract

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on an agreement for a two-year contract in the $32 million range.

Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.

Brantley’s health, though, is why he had to settle for a two-year deal as opposed to a longer contract for a player of his caliber. He will take over in left field. In the event Brantley succumbs to injury woes, the Astros have top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.

Update: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who also reports that the deal is in place, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH. That opens up some more playing time for Tucker.