Free agent C Bengie Molina, who priced himself beyond what the Mets, Orioles or Padres were willing to spend, has signed a one-year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays according to the CBC.

Molina, 31, agreed Monday to a one-year contract with Toronto worth $4.5 million US.

The pact supposedly contains a $1.5 million US signing bonus and a $7.5-million US option for 2007 with a $500,000 US buyout.

Molina hit .295 with 15 home runs, 69 runs batted in, 45 runs scored and only three fielding errors in 119 games last season, when paid $3 million US by the Los Angeles Angels.

Though I’m not quite ready to hand the AL East crown over to Toronto (mostly because it isn’t mine to award), the Blue Jays’ offseason moves have me convinced of one thing ; the 2006 AL Wild Card isn’t going to come out of the East, not with Toronto, New York and Boston playing each other 19 timea.

Colorado has extended the contracts of GM Dan O’Dowd and Clint Hurdle through 2007. I have no idea why. Hurdle, with his 278-350 record in nearly 4 seasons, describes the NL West as “wide open”. And assuming that Barry Bonds doesn’t come back, the Dodgers lose 4 or 5 starting players to injuries and the Padres , uh, sign Mike Piazza to catch every day and hit clean up, Hurdle is absolutely right. The Rockies have as good a shot at finish 4th as any team in the division.

Venezuela ran its record to 5-0 in the Carribean Series with tonight’s 5-1 defeat of Puerto Rico. Even if you don’t want to take my word for it that this tournament has been wildly entertaining, tomorrow night’s final between Venezuela and the Dominican Republic should at the very least, be a terrific way to bask in the dulcet tones of Billy Sample and Jim Leyritz while neglecting your real responsibilities.