Laynce Nix declares free agency

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Laynce Nix declared himself a free agent today after clearing waivers and refusing an outright assignment, according to the Reds’ official Twitter feed.

Nix, who turned 30 last month, batted .291/.350/.455 with four home runs, 18 RBI and an 805 OPS over 165 at-bats this past season. He sprained his left ankle on August 23 and missed most of the month of September, but was on the club’s roster for the Division Series against the Phillies.

Nix went through virtually the same process last November. After hitting a career-high 15 home runs in 309 at-bats in 2009, Nix refused an outright assignment from the Reds only to return on a minor league contract.

It’s possible he could be back, but there will probably be a few teams interested in him as a cheap alternative for a left-handed bat off the bench. Nix posted a 795 OPS in 163 plate appearances against right-handed pitching this season and an 802 OPS in 303 plate appearances against righties in 2009.

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.