How the Reds snagged Aroldis Chapman

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MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon has a story on the Reds’ efforts to get Aroldis Chapman, dating back to his appearances in the World Baseball Classic.  They scouted him pretty heavily, stayed out of the hot stove reports, had a private workout for him no one reported, made an offer, went back and forth with the Hendricks brothers “8000 times” and then held their breath, hoping that the Yankees or Red Sox wouldn’t swoop in.

Two things of particular interest in the article. First, more evidence that, when you’re dealing with amateur free agents, the small markets have advantages that the big teams don’t. Chapman agent Hendricks:

“‘If I had a great first baseman from Cuba, do you think I’d call the
St. Louis Cardinals first?’ We wanted opportunity. We would like to put
him in a system where he’d have an opportunity to emerge sooner.”

Who says there needs to be an international draft in order to level the playing field? Amateurs may very well seek out small market or losing teams for reasons that veteran free agents — who often want to win and win now — won’t.

The second thing: Walt Jocketty used the fact that Dusty Baker speaks Spanish as a selling point for Chapman. Holy Mark Prior, Batman! That means that the Reds may very well plan on keeping him after his contract expires this year!

Good luck with that Aroldis. 

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.