Trevor Hoffman keeping his eye on the Diamondbacks

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Just one day after we learned that Trevor Hoffman would return for another season if given a chance to close, the all-time saves leader tells Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com that he sees a potential fit with the Diamondbacks.

The chances of Hoffman finding another closing gig are slim, but he isn’t completely off base. Not only are the D-Backs without an in-house favorite for the ninth inning next season, but they also recently hired former Padres GM Kevin Towers as their new general manager.

“I’ve known K.T. for such a long time and I figured having a little history there would help,” Hoffman said about playing in Phoenix, which would keep him close to home. “But I don’t know. I’m coming off a tough year. I don’t know if people are going to be turned off by that or not. I hope the strong second half I had will compensate.”

“Usually [money] is what it always comes down to,” Hoffman said. “It’ll be interesting to see if [the D-backs] get back to me. I’m open for anything. I want to take a look at all my options.”

Hoffman, who turned 43 last month, posted a 5.89 ERA and 30/19 K/BB ratio over 47 1/3 innings with the Brewers this past season. Much was made of his early season struggles — something his agent Rick Thurman blames on triceps tendinitis, by the way — but Hoffman actually had a 2.66 ERA and 13/6 K/BB ratio over 20 1/3 innings during the second half of the season, reaching the 600-save plateau in September.

Thurman said he has has yet to speak directly with Towers, but talked to the Diamondbacks last Friday about Hoffman and a number of his other clients, including Brian Fuentes and Octavio Dotel, both of whom also closed games last season.

Hoffman could probably find a job if he is willing to work on the cheap, but don’t forget that Rafael Soriano, Scott Downs, J.J. Putz, Kevin Gregg, Kerry Wood, Joaquin Benoit and Koji Uehara, among others (including that Mariano guy), are all free agents, as well. With only so many closer gigs to go around, the reality is that we may have seen the last of “Hells Bells.”

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.