Reds working on multi-year extension with Joey Votto

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UPDATE: A three-year, $38 million contract extension was agreed to on Sunday afternoon.

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Reds first baseman Joey Votto qualifies for arbitration this winter for the first time in his major league career.  But he may never actually have to face an arbitration hearing.

The slugger is in line for a massive raise from the $550,000 salary that he pulled in last season while capturing National League MVP honors, so the Reds are being  proactive in the month or so before spring training and are looking into signing him to a multi-year contract extension, according to SI.com’s Jon Heyman.

The Reds could simply give Votto a three-year deal that would cover all of his arbitration eligible seasons and keep him in Cincy through 2013 at a fairly bargain rate — something like $37 million.  Or they could pony up even more and buy out some of his free agent years, albeit at a higher overall price tag.

The 27-year-old has all of the leverage in the world this offseason after posting a scorching .324/.424/.600 batting line, 37 home runs and 113 RBI in 2010, but there’s little doubt that he is going to be highly productive for at least the next several seasons.  The Reds may save themselves some cash in the long run (and the pain of possibly losing Votto to free agency) by getting a big extension worked out this winter.

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.