Jackie Bradley Jr. expected to make Opening Day roster with Red Sox

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There’s nothing official yet, but after weeks of debate about the pros and cons, it looks like top prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. will break camp with the Red Sox.

According to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal, Ryan Sweeney was told after tonight’s Grapefruit League game against the Twins that he will not be added to the 40-man roster. As a result, Boston’s final two roster spots are expected to go to Mike Carp and Bradley.

Bradley entered spring training as a major long shot to win a roster spot, but things changed in a hurry due to a combination of his excellent play and David Ortiz’s absence from the lineup. The 22-year-old had an RBI single in tonight’s game and is hitting .441 (26-for-59) with two home runs, four doubles, one triple and 12 RBI in 26 games this spring. Barring a last-minute change, Bradley figures to play left field while Jonny Gomes will fill in for Ortiz out of the DH spot. Things could obviously change once Ortiz is back to full health, but it’s going to be tough to send Bradley down if he keeps producing.

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. 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.