I hesitated at first to include the Astros in these NL Central notes. Thankfully, I've got a year to remap the standings on my mind's sports page. On with the linkage ...
- The Pirates are looking at shortstop Rafael Furcal and other options at the position, tweets Jon Heyman of SI.com, although not the premium types like Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins. It'll be interesting to see how the Bucs handle shortstop after declining Ronny Cedeno's $3MM 2012 option last month.
- Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan would be receptive to working out an extension with the team, according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, who reports that there have been no talks but that neither side has ruled it out, either. It's not a regular occurence in Pittsburgh, where Neal Huntington has dished out just one multiyear contract to a reliever, Matt Capps for 2008-09, since taking over in 2007, according to Langosch. Hanrahan is under team control for two more years and is due a sharp raise through arbitration on his $1.4MM 2011 salary coming off a 40-save campaign. The 30-year-old right-hander should earn $4MM in 2012 through arbitration.
- New Astros owner Jim Crane said it was made clear to him before agreeing to purchase the Astros that the team would be moved to the AL, according to Astros senior director of social media Alyson Footer. Crane also cautioned not to expect the Astros to be big players in free agency this year, as they will instead focus on building the farm, and said payroll will "be in line with" incoming revenue (all Twitter links).
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin said he's interested in extending starters Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, as was reported yesterday, but that the sides haven't had talks yet and aren't in a rush to do so, according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com.
- Melvin also hasn't ruled out bringing Craig Counsell aboard as the Brewers' hitting coach, tweets McCalvy. Counsell, however, hasn't ruled out remaining in the game as a player.
- Cardinals CEO Bill DeWitt Jr. said the Redbirds are "going to make every effort" to re-sign first baseman Albert Pujols, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. We heard earlier today and yesterday that the Cards and Pujols' agent have resumed talks.
- New Cubs manager Dale Sveum may bring in Robin Yount as one of his coaches, writes Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun Times.
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