Anthony Rendon

Anthony Rendon, Danny Espinosa involved in “open competition” at second base for the Nationals

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Danny Espinosa didn’t exactly have a great 2013 season. Due largely to playing with a fractured wrist, Espinosa posted a .465 OPS, resulting in a stint on the disabled list and a demotion to Triple-A Syracuse. Anthony Rendon took over and was more or less average offensively with some hiccups on defense. Nonetheless, an upgrade.

According to Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington, Espinosa asked new manager Matt Williams for a chance to win back his job at second base. As a result, Williams is holding an “open competition” at second base between Espinosa and Rendon during spring training.

“I believe it’s open competition,” Williams said. “And that’s all you can say about it at this point. They haven’t even taken their first grounder officially yet. But I think that it’s good to have competition in spring. It makes guys come into camp ready … There’s no favorite at this point. We’re going to give them both ample opportunity to become the starter, and we’ll see where we go.”

Despite what Williams said, one would have to consider Espinosa the underdog. In the event Rendon remains the starter, Espinosa could serve in a utility role, backing up at second base, third base, and shortstop.

Second base is one of the only areas still up in the air for the Nats. The #5 spot in the rotation will see some competition between Tanner Roark, Ross Detwiler, and Taylor Jordan. Otherwise, you can write just about everyone else in pen.

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.