Stephen Strasburg

Stephen Strasburg fans 10 in dominant season finale

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The Nationals weren’t sure whether it was a good idea to give Stephen Strasburg a fifth and final start on the last day of the season, but they’re probably glad they did after witnessing a stellar performance today.

Strasburg allowed just one hit over six innings and struck out 10 in a 79-pitch masterpiece against the Marlins on Wednesday.  He picked up the victory — his first in five starts since returning from Tommy John surgery — in the 3-1 win.

Strasburg ends his September comebacks with a 1.50 ERA and a 24/2 K/BB ratio in 24 innings.  He didn’t allow a homer.  He now has a 2.54 ERA and a 116/19 K/BB ratio in 92 innings since debuting in 2010.

It’s still a ways off, but it will be interesting to see where the Nationals slot Strasburg into next year’s rotation.  Strasburg figures to be their best pitcher, but Jordan Zimmermann probably deserves the nod after amassing a 3.18 ERA in his 26 starts this year. Since Strasburg will be on an innings limit next year, the Nats might decide to make him their fifth starter initially, allowing them to better control his workload.

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.