Rizzo: Stephen Strasburg will not be rushed

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strasburg on the mound.JPGStephen Strasburg boasts a 2-0 record, 0.73 ERA and a 17/3 K/BB ratio through three starts (12 1/3 innings) at Double-A Harrisburg and is certainly ready for more of a challenge.  But don’t expect a promotion to the big leagues anytime soon.

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo hinted to CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman on Wednesday that the 21-year-old standout will not be rushed through the organization, no matter how well he pitches.

“I’ve got a tentative plan in my mind, that I’m not going to share with
you guys,” Rizzo said with a laugh
Wednesday. “But we see that he certainly needs more work down in the
minor leagues. We’re going to see him in the big leagues, and when we
see him in the big leagues, we hope he’s here for good.”

It’s less about performance and development than it is about money, of course.  By leaving Strasburg in the minors until early June, the Nats can prevent him from reaching Super-Two status, which gives a player an extra year of arbitration.  In the end, patience could save the Nationals nearly $20 million.

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.