Former top prospect Lastings Milledge signs with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows

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According to a Sanspo report via Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker, the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of Japan’s Central League have announced the signing of outfielder Lastings Milledge.

Former Athletics and Tigers farmhand Scot Drucker actually spoiled the news earlier this month, but the signing is now official.

Milledge will earn around $570,000 next season while his contract includes a club option for 2013.

It wasn’t too long ago that Milledge was considered a top prospect in the Mets’ organization, but his stock has plummeted in recent years. He actually made the White Sox Opening Day roster this past season, but was quickly designated for assignment in early-April and spent the rest of the year at the Triple-A level after passing through waivers unclaimed. The 26-year-old has a .269/.328/.395 batting line and .723 OPS over 1,659 plate appearances in the majors.

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.