Cubs interim manager Mike Quade benches Starlin Castro for "lapses in concentration"

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Cubs interim manager Mike Quade benched Starlin Castro yesterday for what he called “lapses in concentration” after the Cubs’ rookie shortstop forgot how many outs there were and got picked off first base Sunday.

Castro also made an error in the field Friday and Quade, who’s gone 9-4 since taking over the 51-74 team from Lou Piniella last month, told Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times that he’ll be on the bench for at least two games to “reflect” on his various mistakes:

I want the guy to take a step back, take a look at what goes on around here, from a different perspective, sitting with us and his teammates. It’ll give him a chance to clear his head and figure out exactly how he can compartmentalize–if that’s the right word–all the different tasks that go with that position at this level. I think the break will help him.

Look, this kid has a chance to be so incredibly valuable, obviously, to this franchise. And the more he can do to help himself, to clear his mind and be consistent in what he does is going to determine just how good he’s going to be. So you take a moment like this, and you go ahead and do it.

Castro took the benching in stride, which is nice to see given that a 20-year-old rookie hitting .317 could just as easily have scoffed at being reprimanded by a manager who may not even be around after this month. And if Quade does actually get the full-time job in Chicago having Castro on his side will be a huge factor in his success, so the benching potentially has a much bigger impact than just couple days off.

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.