Giants name Brandon Belt starting first baseman

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Here’s some big (but somewhat expected) news out of San Francisco…

According to Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News, the Giants have informed top prospect Brandon Belt that he will open the year as the club’s starting first baseman. Aubrey Huff is going to move out to right field for the time being and the situation will be reevaluated once Cody Ross returns from his right calf strain.

Belt, 22, was rated baseball’s 22nd most promising prospect by Baseball America this winter after slugging 23 home runs and tallying 112 RBI across 136 minor league games last season.

He hit .282/.338/.479 with three home runs and five doubles in 71 at-bats this spring.

Giants skipper Bruce Bochy told Andrew Baggarly, also of the Mercury News, that Belt teared up upon getting the good word and called it the “best day of my life, besides my wedding.”

Fried, Braves go to salary arbitration for 2nd straight year

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Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Pitcher Max Fried went to salary arbitration with the Atlanta Braves for the second straight year, asking for $15 million instead of the team’s $13.5 million offer.

The 29-year-old left-hander went 14-7 for the second straight season and lowered his ERA to 2.48 from 3.04 in 2021. Fried was a first-time All-Star last season, was second to Miami’s Sandy Alcantara in Cy Young Award voting and was third in the National League in ERA behind Alcantara and Julio Urias with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Fried won a $6.85 million salary last year instead of the team’s $6.6 million proposal in arbitration. That was after he pitched six shutout innings in World Series Game 6 as the Braves won their first title since 1995.

Fried, who is eligible for free agency after the 2024 World Series, had his case heard Friday by a panel that’s expected to issue a decision Saturday.

Players have won two of three decisions so far: Pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Miami Marlins. But Seattle defeated Diego Castillo ($2.95 million).

A decision is being held for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe, whose case was argued Monday. About 20 more cases are scheduled through Feb. 17.