Francoeur for the All-Star Game

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I’ve known Sports Illustrated’s Tim Marchman — in that way that people
know each other on the Internet — for a year or two now. And I thought
we were friends and everything. So why he’s trying to raise my blood
pressure and force me into having a heart attack I don’t know, but he’s
doing it anyway. From his All-Star picks column:

Right field: Jeff Francoeur, Atlanta: Apologies to Justin
Upton, but when baseball no longer has a place for the likes of
Francoeur, a player so extravagantly talented that he can hold down a
major league job despite seemingly having little more idea of what to
do with that talent than a tomcat, baseball will no longer be worth
watching.

May as well agitate for a contract extension while you’re at it, Tim. Sheesh.

(thanks to reader Ernest O. for the link)

Royals sign Michael Saunders to a minor-league deal

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Free agent outfielder Michael Saunders has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Royals, the team announced Friday. While the move comes just two days after Saunders agreed to terms with the Pirates, he allegedly asked for his release after the club acquired outfielder Corey Dickerson in a multi-player swap with the Rays on Thursday. MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan adds that Saunders will make $1.5 million upon reaching the majors, with a potential $500,000 in bonuses.

After earning his first spot on an All-Star team in 2016, Saunders followed up a solid campaign with a career-worst performance in 2017. The 31-year-old split the season between the Phillies and Blue Jays’ camps, batting a combined .202/.256/.344 with six home runs and -0.7 fWAR in 234 plate appearances. Although he remained healthy throughout the year, with no sign of the lingering hamstring strain that has plagued him on and off since 2013, he wasn’t productive enough to merit a full-time role on either roster.

With Dickerson slated for a starting role in Pittsburgh, it was unlikely that Saunders would have commanded anything other than a backup role in 2018. Now, however, he’ll compete for playing time amid a slew of outfield options, including Alex Gordon, Cody Asche, Jorge Bonifacio, Tyler Collins and Paulo Orlando.