Cubs interview Rays bench coach Dave Martinez for manager job

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Confirming reports from earlier this week, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com passes along word that the Cubs interviewed Rays bench coach Dave Martinez for their managerial vacancy today.

Martinez has been the bench coach for Tampa Bay for the past six seasons and has interviewed for manager jobs with the Indians, Blue Jays, and Astros in the past. Getting the Cubs’ job would take him full circle, as he was originally signed by the club and made his major league debut there in 1986.

The Cubs have already interviewed Padres bench coach Rick Renteria, former Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch, and former Indians and Nationals manager Manny Acta. It’s not known whether the club will add more names to the mix after Martinez.

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.

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.