Old lefties are like zombies or something: you just can’t kill them. Take Ron Villone for example. He’s played for 12 teams in 15 seasons and aside from a little stretch which coincided with him doing things that got him named in the Mitchell Report, he’s never been much better than average.
But he throws with his left hand instead of his right, and that’s just the sort of thing that appeals to people. It appeals to the Nats at least, who have reportedly signed him to some sort of contract because Bill Ladson of MLB.com is reporting that he’s working out in their spring training facility as we speak.
The Nats, you may recall, cut Villone just a month ago. I guess watching Jason Marquis pull that seven-batters-faced-no-batters-retired performance out of his back pocket yesterday afternoon made ’em think twice about getting reacquainted with an old flame.
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.