Winter meetings notes from day two: Giants, Brewers, Astros

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– Giants GM Brian Sabean said there’s no way Bengie Molina would be returning to the team. “That ship has sailed,” he told the San Jose Mercury News.
The Giants don’t want to turn over the job to Buster Posey, so Molina would still make sense if he can’t get a multiyear deal elsewhere. However, the Giants appear to be focused on Yorvit Torrealba or, perhaps, Ryan Doumit.
– The Brewers are close to re-signing free agent right-hander Claudio Vargas, presumably to a one-year deal.
Vargas, a starter for the Brewers in 2007, did a great job in low-leverage situations after being reacquired from the Dodgers on July 31, amassing a 1.78 ERA in 30 1/3 innings. He’ll need to take on a bigger role in next year’s pen, particularly now that Mark DiFelice is expected to miss the season.
– The Nationals have brought back Jerry Owens on a minor league contract, according to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson.
Owens was the Nationals’ second-round pick in 2003. He was traded to the White Sox for Alex Escobar a year and a half later and hit .262/.319/.305 in 393 at-bats over four seasons for Chicago. He should be Triple-A fodder for the Nats, but perhaps there’s the chance that he’ll make the team as a bench player if Willie Harris is traded.
The Astros have signed eight players to minor league deals with spring training invitations: RHP Roy Corcoran, RHP Ryan Sadowski, RHP Casey Daigle, RHP Gary Majewski, 1B Chris Shelton, INF Drew Meyer, INF Oswaldo Nararro and OF Alex Romero.
If you’re a pitcher and a minor league free agent, the Astros would seem to be a prime team to sign with. Corcoran had a 3.22 ERA in 722/3 innings for the Mariners in 2008 and would seem to be the player here with the best chance of making the Astros out of spring training. Shelton is also deserving of another opportunity, though he’s less likely to get it. He hit .314/.396/.509 for Triple-A Tacoma last season.

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.