Theo holds forth on steroids, Halladay, Youkilis and other stuff

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Red Sox GM Theo Epstein was on WEEI’s “The Dale and Holley” show yesterday and talked about all kinds of things — the Sox’ recent troubles, Halladay, Ortiz’ situation and steroids in general, Youkilis’ suspension, etc.  All pretty straightforward stuff, though this bit about finding Ortiz’s statements on PEDs to be satisfying was interesting:

He said, ‘Look, this report is shocking to me. I haven’t taken
steroids and I want to find out what the heck I tested positive for. I
need to talk to the union, I need to find out what’s going on. As soon
as I do . . . I’m not going to hide from this, I’m going to answer
every single question.’ When a player says something like that, which
is refreshing given a normal response . . . hiding behind excuses or
some sort of technical legal situation to not address the question head
on . . . you want to stand behind him.

I guess Theo can feel satisfied about that if he wants, but to suggest that Ortiz’s statements weren’t accompanied by “technical legal” excuses is really stretching things.  You’ll recall that Union general counsel Michael Weiner spoke before Ortiz did, and what he offered — while totally valid in my mind — was about as long a legal disclaimer as anyone has offered in connection with steroids to date.

Phillies sign outfielder Michael Saunders

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 3: Michael Saunders #21 of the Toronto Blue Jays runs to first after being walked during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 3, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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The Phillies have signed free agent outfielder Michael Saunders.

Saunders was an All-Star in 2016 due to his wonderful start, but he cratered in the second half of the season. Overall is numbers looked good — he hit 24 homers and posted a line of .253/.338/.478, but his second half line was .178/.282/.357 in 58 games. He’s not the best defender around either.

The Phillies could use him, however, and if he has another red hot first half, there’s a decent chance they could flip him if they wanted to.

Jose Bautista and the Blue Jays nearing a two-year, $35-40 million deal

Toronto Blue Jays Jose Bautista flips his bat after hitting a three-run homer during seventh inning game 5 American League Division Series baseball action in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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It was first reported that the Blue Jays and Jose Bautista were close to a deal last night. Now Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is near completion. It will likely a two-year contract in the $35-40 million range.

Bautista had a tough 2016, hitting .234/.366/.452 with 22 home runs and 69 RBI, and some clubs likely considered a long-term deal for the 36-year-old too risky, this leading to the relative lack of reported interest in Bautista by other clubs. But back-to-back ALCS appearances by the Jays and the success and popularity Bautista has experienced in Toronto make his re-signing there a pretty sensible move for all involved.

The Jays, who already lost Edwin Encarnacion to free agency, get their slugger back on a short term deal. Unlike anyone else, they don’t have to give up the draft pick attached to him via the qualifying offer. Bautista, in turn, will make, on average, more than he would’ve made on the qualifying offer if he would’ve accepted it and a raise over the $14 million he made in 2016.