Former Dodgers center fielder Willie Davis dies

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Andrew Blankstein of the Los Angeles Times reports that 69-year-old former Dodgers center fielder Willie Davis was found dead in his apartment this morning:

Davis … became one of the Dodgers’ early stars after the team moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn in 1958. Known for his offense, Davis played center field for the Dodgers for 13 seasons starting in 1961. He hit in a team record 31 consecutive games in 1969 and batted .305 or above three years straight in the late 1960s and early 1970s.



[…]



After baseball, Davis made headlines in 1996 when he was arrested at his parents’ home near Gardena for allegedly threatening to kill them and burn down the house unless they gave him $5,000. Davis was armed with a set of throwing knives and a samurai sword, officials said.

According to the report “authorities said there was nothing to indicate foul play and it appears that Davis died of natural causes.”
Jon Weisman of ESPN.com has a nice tribute to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ all-time leader in hits and runs.

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.