Blue Jays reportedly seeking a top prospect for Scott Downs

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Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports that the Blue Jays “have been aiming high” with their asking price for reliever Scott Downs by “asking for one of the top two or three prospects in the farm systems of interested clubs.”
It’s important to note that “one of the top two or three prospects” in one farm system could be vastly better or worse than “one of the top two or three prospects” in another farm system, but either way Toronto is justified in asking a lot for Downs.
Not only is he a very good reliever, as an impending free agent likely destined for Type A status the Blue Jays could simply take a pair of compensatory draft picks for letting him walk.
Downs isn’t a household name because he’s yet to get an extended stint closing games, but he has a 2.55 ERA, .221 opponents’ batting average, and 256/107 K/BB ratio in 303 career innings as a reliever. He’s also much more than a left-handed specialist, holding right-handed batters to a .237 batting average since 2007.
Speier speculates that the Red Sox could make a run at Downs as a late-inning replacement for Hideki Okajimi, who has struggled this season.

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.