Russell Martin needs knee surgery, but the Yankees signed him anyway

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Russell Martin officially signed his one-year, $4 million deal with the Yankees after passing a physical exam earlier this week, but it turns out he didn’t so much “pass” as the Yankees were only concerned with the status of his fractured hip.

Presumably they were encouraged enough by what they saw in his recovery from that injury to sign off on the contract, because Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the physical exam revealed Martin needs knee surgery.

Sherman classifies it as minor surgery and Martin is expected to be recovered from the operation in time for spring training, but going under the knife complicates things even further for the 28-year-old catcher who was already somewhat of a question mark coming off back-to-back disappointing seasons and a major hip injury.

Sherman opines that the Yankees’ willingness to sign Martin anyway “says lot about” their lack of faith in top prospect Jesus Montero being ready to catch in the majors in 2011, but realistically a minor knee surgery in mid-December seems unlikely to hold up a signing regardless.

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.

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.