saunders getty

Orioles remain in contact with left-hander Joe Saunders, unlikely to pursue righty Kyle Lohse

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MASN’s Roch Kubatko provides the scoop:

Executive vice president Dan Duquette remains in contact with left-hander Joe Saunders’ agent. Some members of the national media keep trying to link the Orioles to Kyle Lohse, but they don’t give out big contracts to free-agent pitchers and they’d rather hold onto their first-round pick.

Lohse registered a stellar 2.86 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 211 innings (33 starts) last season with the Cardinals, but the 34-year-old hasn’t been able to attract much interest this winter because of the draft pick compensation and because there is a perception that he will struggle away from St. Louis — where he revitalized his career under former pitching coach Dave Duncan.

Saunders, 31, posted a 4.07 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 174 2/3 innings (28 starts) between the Diamondbacks and Orioles in 2012. He has been linked so far this offseason to the O’s, Mets, Mariners and Padres.

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.