ryan franklin posing

Tony La Russa staying with Ryan Franklin as Cardinals’ closer despite three blown saves

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Ryan Franklin has blown three saves in four chances this season, allowing a total of four runs in 3.2 innings, but yesterday manager Tony La Russa made it clear that he’s sticking with the 38-year-old right-hander as the Cardinals’ closer:

I don’t see anything that’s changed between anybody that’s his competition. … Somebody’s got to come up with somebody that’s better on our club right now. The fact is that right now those young guys aren’t better.

Matthew Leach of MLB.com notes that two of the blown saves came in part because the defense didn’t make plays behind Franklin, but he’s allowed opponents to hit .353 with a .588 slugging percentage while already coughing up more leads than he did in all of 2010.

With that said, making sweeping changes based on what essentially boils down to 20 bad plate appearances rarely makes sense and Franklin had been an excellent reliever for St. Louis in each of the past four seasons. He deserves a chance to turn things around, but if not La Russa indirectly mentioned Miguel Batista, Mitchell Boggs, and Jason Motte as potential alternatives. For the sake of Cardinals fans, let’s hope he wouldn’t actually hand ninth-inning duties to Batista.

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.