The Nationals poach Braves' scouting director Roy Clark

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In a move that won’t turn a lot of heads but which will nonetheless have huge implications, Braves’ longtime scouting director Roy Clark told the team yesterday that he’s leaving the organization
to become an assistant general manager with the Nationals
.

For those unfamiliar with Clark, he’s the guy who has identified just about every prospect that has come through the Braves’ system over the past 11 years, and arguably no team in baseball has had more talent come through its system than the Braves during that time.  He’s been with the club for over 20 years total.

This is the second time the Nationals have taken a run at Clark, having offered him a job back in 2006.  This time, however, they have offered him much more power than before, and he’ll presumably have near total power over the draft and player development.

The Nationals are viewed as something of a laughingstock now.  So too were the Braves when Clark joined the team in the late 80s.  An argument can be made that Clark had more to do with changing all of that than any one man in the organization.  An argument can also be made that no front office move will do more to change a team’s fortunes this offseason than this move will for the Nats.

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.