Brandon Belt and the Giants avoid arbitration

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Brandon Belt and the Giants avoided arbitration last night by agreeing to a one-year, $2.9 million contract. Belt had filed at $3.6 million and the Giants filed at $2.05 million, so they settled just above the $2.825 midpoint.

The kicker: Belt and the Giants representatives had already flown to Florida for the hearing that was scheduled for today. So I guess that gets him out of a morning workout and allowed him to catch up with whatever he has stored on his Kindle during the flight.

Belt hit .289/.360/.481 for the Giants last year. He turns 26 in April. Most people are comparing him to Freddie Freeman, who the Braves locked up to a nine-figure deal over the winter, and there was some hope among Giants fans that Belt would get a long-term deal. But given that Belt is a year and a half older, has about a season less under his belt and given that the Braves were under more financial pressure to lock up their first baseman than the Giants may be — and thus were under more pressure to back up the Brinks truck for Freeman —  it was pretty unlikely that Belt was going to get anything more than this one-year deal now. If he has another nice season like the one he just had, however, there’s a good chance he gets a long-term deal next year.

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.