Royals sign Alex Gordon to four-year, $37.5 million deal

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Update: The Kansas City Star’s Bob Dutton reports the first four seasons are worth $37.5 million: $6 million in 2012, $9 million in 2013, $10 million in 2014 and $12.5 million in 2015. The Royals are paying more than they likely needed to for the next two years (Gordon was already signed for $4.775 million for 2012), but they’ll make it back in his free agent seasons if Gordon remains one of the game’s top 20 or 30 outfielders.

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2011 was very much a make-or-break year for Alex Gordon in Kansas City. It’s safe to say he made it.

The Royals on Friday announced the signing of their former first-round pick to a four-year deal with a player option for 2016.

After struggling to establish himself for four years with the Royals, Gordon busted through to hit .303/.376/.502 with 23 homers, 87 RBI and 17 steals last season. The converted third baseman also won a Gold Glove for his play in left field (though that should have gone to Brett Gardner) and finished seventh among AL position players in WAR (the Baseball-Reference version).

No word yet on the terms of the deal, though $30 million-$32 million for the first four years seems like a reasonable guess. Gordon avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, signing a one-year, $4.775 million deal, but this pact replaces that one. He would have been eligible for free agency for the first time after the 2013 season.

Steven Matz to skip next spring training start with elbow issues

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Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.

Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.

Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.

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.