The Cubs are talking to Jeff Samardzija about a long term deal

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Most people figured it was a foregone conclusion that the Cubs would trade Jeff Samardzija to a contender this summer, but the Sun Times reports that they haven’t quite yet closed the door on keeping their ace around:

But even as the Cubs continue early trade talks with some teams about Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija, they also have quietly reached out to Samardzija with a new offer on a contract that would keep him in Chicago as long as Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, according to multiple sources.

There have been talks in the past but they’ve never gone anywhere. It just seems like the Cubs and Samardzija are a bad match given his age and the team’s place on the success cycle (i.e. not there and likely won’t be for a couple more years). Maybe that calculus has changed for both sides, with the Cubs thinking they’ll be friskier faster than they used to think and Samardzija looking around, realizing that he’s one pitch away from Tommy John surgery, so why not cash in now while the cashing is good.

Or maybe it’s just a way to make other teams think the Cubs value Samardzija more than they do, thus upping the haul they can get for him in a trade.

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.