Sign Strasburg, lose your job

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That’s what Gordon Edes is reporting, anyway:

Multiple sources insisted Tuesday that the Nationals are on the verge of announcing that Arizona Diamondbacks
vice president Jerry DiPoto is about to be named Nationals GM,
replacing [Mike] Rizzo, who has been interim GM since replacing Jim Bowden
earlier this season.

We all knew the Nats were looking, but it seemed like Rizzo was doing an OK job.  He reportedly has a good relationship with Boras, which helped with the Strasburg signing, and which could help with Bryce Harper next year, whom the Nats currently stand poised to pick.  He also made some decent moves during the season in picking up Nyjer Morgan, who has proved useful and popular, and unloading Nick Johnson. Sure, the Nats remain terrible, but there’s hope there, and a lot of that hope is based on moves Rizzo has made, either as GM or as scouting director. Frankly, I’m rather surprised that they’re not going to stick with him. 

But maybe the most surprising thing in all of this is one of the guys who was reportedly on the Nats’ short list: ESPN’s Steve Phillips. According to Edes, ”
he told associates he had no interest because of his job at ESPN.” If the Nats were seriously considering Phillips — as opposed to this being something Phillips was simply floating through is “associates” to make himself sound like a viable candidate — then it shows the Lerners’ terrible judgment and thus passing over Rizzo is understandable.

If true, it also means that we were this close to being able to watch Sunday night baseball again with the sound on.  Bummer.

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.