Report: Cubs and Starlin Castro agree to seven-year, $60 million extension

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UPDATE: David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com hears that the deal is very close, but isn’t finalized yet.

3:22 PM: We’ve heard reports over the past couple of days that the Cubs and Starlin Castro were close to agreeing on a long-term contract extension. The deal is now in place.

According to Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com, the Cubs and Castro have agreed to a seven-year, $60 million extension with a $16 million club option for 2020.

Castro was projected to qualify for arbitration this winter as a Super Two player, so the deal covers all four years of arbitration eligibility and three years of free agency. He will be signed through his age-29 season.

Castro, 22, entered play this afternoon with a .297/.333/.422 batting line over his first three seasons in the big leagues. He continues to have his share of mental errors and his plate discipline, fielding and baserunning all have room for improvement, but Theo Epstein and company have sent a clear message that they consider their young shortstop an important building block.

Blue Jays sign Michael Saunders

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The Blue Jays have signed outfielder Michael Saunders to a minor-league deal, per a club announcement.

Saunders, of course, played for the Blue Jays in 2015 and 2016, putting up a line of .250/.336/.461 in 594 plate appearances. It was his good play in the first half of 2016, in fact, which earned him an All-Star spot and, presumably, made the Phillies think he was worth the $9 million deal they gave him over the offseason. That didn’t work out, as he hit .205/.257/.360 over 61 games and was released last week.

The Phillies will pay the rest of that $9 million. The Jays will see if he has anything in the tank to help them out.

Giants closer Mark Melancon is heading to the disabled list once again

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The Giants have placed closer Mark Melancon on the 10-day disabled list with a right pronator strain.

This is the same injury that sent him to the disabled list last month. He came back from that quickly, but it can’t be great that this is happening again. You have to assume he’ll miss more time given the recurrence of trouble. He’s going to get an MRI too. Sam Dyson is expected to serve as the Giants’ closer while Melancon is sidelined.

Melancon has a 4.35 ERA and 11 saves in 22 appearances this year. He signed a four-year, $62 million deal with San Francisco last December.