freel getty

“Some days, the Reds’ usually frenetic utilityman would simply sit in his chair and stare into his locker…”

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Marc Lancaster served as the Reds beat writer for the Cincinnati Post from 2004-2006 and developed a close relationship with Ryan Freel, who was at the peak of his MLB career during those three seasons.

Freel, a husband to Christie and father to three daughters, took his life with a shotgun at his family home in Jacksonville, Florida on Saturday. And now Lancaster is offering a unique perspective on the kind of man Freel was and the sort of internal issues that he struggled with in a special remembrance for CBSSports.com:

It became almost a daily routine in the Cincinnati Reds’ clubhouse in the mid-2000s. Ryan Freel would do something, or say something, or a look a certain way, and those who were around him on a regular basis immediately could deduce whether “Good Freel” or “Bad Freel” had showed up to work that day.

The difference was stark. Some days, the Reds’ usually frenetic utilityman would simply sit in his chair and stare into his locker, not interacting with anyone about anything. Other days he would bounce around the room, greeting anyone in his path – teammates, clubhouse attendants, reporters – with over-the-top enthusiasm and occasionally a bear hug.

Head on over to Eye On Baseball and read the whole thing. We’ll steal just one last line:

As former major league outfielder Rocco Baldelli said on Twitter Saturday night“Lets pay better attention to the ones we love.”

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.