Russell Martin open to re-signing with Dodgers as utility man

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Russell Martin was non-tendered by the Dodgers last night and the team seemingly replaced him behind the plate by re-signing Rod Barajas to a one-year deal, but today Martin’s agent told Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that returning at a lesser salary and as a utility man may still be an option.

According to agent Matt Colleran, prior to the non-tender general manager Ned Colletti pitched the idea of Martin playing some second base, third base, and outfield in addition to catcher, but the two sides couldn’t agree on a contract before the midnight deadline. “He’s interested in the opportunity the Dodgers have described,” Colleran said.

Of course, Colleran also told Hernandez that six teams expressed interest in Martin as soon as he was non-tendered and there are various reports suggesting the Yankees were close to trading for him last night.

Martin’s willingness to play multiple positions is interesting, but the truth is that it’s been two years since he hit well enough to be an asset anywhere but behind the plate and ultimately the health of his fractured hip, not defensive versatility, will determine the bulk of his value.

According to Hernandez the Dodgers and Martin parted ways over a difference of $800,000 in guaranteed money.

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.