The Pirates are in talks with Ryan Church

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Dejan Kovacevic says that the Pirates have had “extensive conversations” with Ryan Church about coming to Pittsburgh. The idea would be for him to start a bit, but move quietly to a bench role if and when Jose Tabata can take over the position on a full time basis. If I’m Church I’d probably feel pretty comfortable about Tabata’s ability to do that not kicking in until 2011, so Pittsburgh may not be a bad place to be in 2010.

Church hit
.273/.338/.384 with four home runs and 40 RBI in 359 at-bats between
the Braves and Mets. Assuming the back problems he had last year were temporary — as he claims they are despite the fact that no one I’ve ever known with back problems had them go away completely — he’s capable of better than that
.  He’s a solid platoon guy who’s hit .287/.357/.460 against
righties over the past three seasons and plays good defense in either corner.

Basically, he could be a good option as the sort of swingman the Pirates envision. Better than Rick Ankiel anyway, given the fact that he’d certainly want to start and play center in order to position himself for 2011.

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.