Darren Oliver's $3.25 million option for 2011 vested last night

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Darren Oliver tossed a scoreless inning last night in his 59th appearance of the season, which is the number needed for the Rangers’ 2011 team option on the 39-year-old reliever to vest at $3.25 million.
Texas will be glad to have Oliver back at that price, as he’s quietly gone from being a mediocre and then seemingly washed-up starter to one of the better left-handed relievers in baseball for the past five seasons. Oliver has a 2.50 ERA and 63/14 K/BB ratio in 57.2 innings this season, producing the second-highest strikeout rate ever for a 39-year-old with at least 50 innings:

Randy Johnson       2003     9.87
Darren Oliver       2010     9.83
Nolan Ryan          1986     9.81
Mariano Rivera      2009     9.77
Roger Clemens       2002     9.60

That’s quite a list. Four of the greatest pitchers of all time and Darren Oliver, who in his five seasons prior to moving to the bullpen full time in 2006 went 33-39 with a 5.83 ERA in 573 innings spent primarily as a starter. Since becoming a full-time reliever he’s thrown 348 innings with a 3.08 ERA and is doing the best work of his career in his 17th season.

David Price’s season debut could be pushed back to May

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David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.

Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.

The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.

Yadier Molina will not enter contract negotiations during the 2017 season

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.

Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:

I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.

The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.

The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.