Padres reach one-year agreement with Brad Hawpe

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From Bernie Wilson of the Associated Press comes word that the Padres have reached a one-year contract with free agent Brad Hawpe.  The two sides were said to be “on the verge” of an agreement late Thursday night and made it happen today on Christmas Eve.

Once he passes his pre-signing physical, everything will be official.

Hawpe is going to play first base in San Diego, a position he has manned only nine times in his career.  It’s obviously a downgrade both defensively and offensively from Adrian Gonzalez, but the Padres don’t have a massive payroll and must spend creatively.

Hawpe, 31, should be worth what is likely to be a low-base salary contract.

He batted just .245/.338/.419 over 346 plate appearances in 2010 for the Rockies and Rays, but he still carries an impressive 862 career OPS and he boasts a strong .281/.371/.451 lifetime batting line inside the cavernous walls of PETCO Park.

The Padres chased more traditional first basemen Adam LaRoche and Derrek Lee before deciding on Hawpe.  Both were seeking fairly expensive salaries, though, and the youth-driven Friars were wise to shy away.

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.