While Yasiel Puig and the Dodgers’ pitching staff deserve a lot of credit for the team’s incredible turnaround, Hanley Ramirez has been the team’s best hitter when healthy this season, batting .348 with 13 home runs and a 1.025 OPS through 63 games. And the Dodgers are prepared to reward him.
According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, Dodgers owner Mark Walter said last night that he is “absolutely” interesting in talking to Ramirez this winter about a contract extension. The 29-year-old is under contract for $14 million next season, after which he can become a free agent.
“I think a guy like Hanley Ramirez, he’s a special, special player,” Walter said. “If you know where we could find five more, we’ll take them all. I don’t think there are five more.”
For his part, Ramirez said he’s “definitely” interested in talking about an extension with the Dodgers and wants to “to stay here forever.”
Clayton Kershaw is also set to become a free agent following the 2014 season, but if there’s any team who could be willing to afford to keep both players, it’s the Dodgers. The deep-pocketed club already has $122 million committed to seven players (Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Zack Greinke, Andre Ethier, Yasiel Puig, and Hyun-Jin Ryu) for 2017.
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 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.