Rumors: Vazquez, Chapman, King Felix

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With the offseason just days away, Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune is back with his latest batch of rumors to preheat the Hot Stove.



Among them, he floats Javier Vazquez
as a possible trade candidate now that Tim Hudson is expected to
finalize an extension with the Braves this week. Vazquez had one of the
most unsung seasons in the majors this season, going 15-10 with a 2.87
ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 238 strikeouts (2nd in the NL). The Braves are
looking to bolster an outfield that hit just .262/.329/.397 with a
measly .726 OPS (27th in MLB).




While I agree that the Braves should
sell-high on Vazquez, where Rogers loses me is when he names Seattle as
a potential destination for Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman. His
logic? The Mariners are possibly hoping to acquire another front-line
arm before Felix Hernandez bolts for free agency after the 2011 season.




Listen, I’m well aware that
Hernandez, represented by Alan Nero, will almost certainly test the
open market, most likely landing in New York or Boston; it’s a sad
reality of our game. However, if there was any time to make a major financial commitment to a pitcher — Chapman is rumored to be asking for $40-60
million —
King Felix is the one. Nevermind the fact that the Mariners have almost
no chance of landing the 21-year-old Chapman.




If they’re really thinking about life after King Felix, they might as well trade him for Clay Buchholz right now.

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.