UPDATE: According to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, the Rangers, Mariners and Braves have all expressed strong interest in Upton.
4:02 PM: It’s been a while since Justin Upton rumors were swirling, so Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports that the Diamondbacks are “very much open again to talking about trading Upton with other teams.”
That’s some interesting language from Olney and falls pretty short of saying Arizona is actively shopping Upton or even actively fielding offers on Upton. But considering reports like that have been surfacing every month or so for going on two years now none of it is surprising.
After the Diamondbacks basically came out of nowhere to sign Cody Ross it seemed obvious that they’d be moving an outfielder, and Upton or Jason Kubel are the leading candidates.
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. MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan adds that Saunders will make $1.5 million upon reaching the majors, with a potential $500,000 in bonuses.
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.