Rangers sign Derek Holland to five-year, $28 million deal

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Derek Holland and the Rangers have agreed to a five-year, $28 million contract that includes team options for 2017 and 2018, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

Holland wasn’t even arbitration eligible yet and Texas had him under team control through 2015 already, so the five-year contract cancels out his previous minimum-salaried deal for 2012, pre-pays for all three arbitration seasons, and buys out his first season of free agency while giving the Rangers options on his second and third free agent years.

Holland emerged as a top prospect after being a 25th-round pick in 2006 and established himself as one of the league’s best left-handed starters last year at age 24, throwing 198 innings with a 3.95 ERA and 162/67 K/BB ratio while calling an extreme hitters’ ballpark home.

Early last year Trevor Cahill and Clay Buchholz both signed five-year, $30 million contracts while having similar service time to Holland. He has just one full season in the rotation and currently sports a modest 4.73 career ERA thanks to an ugly debut as a 22-year-old in 2009, but if he stays healthy the Rangers will be plenty happy with the investment to control Holland through age 31. And now Holland is set for life, so he can focus solely on pitching and mustache growing.

UPDATE: According to Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas the option years are worth $11 million in 2017 and $11.5 million in 2018, so the total value of the contract could rise over $50 million for seven seasons.

Video: Andrew Toles hammers grand slam in Cactus League win

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Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.

Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).

Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.

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.