Mets closer Bobby Parnell showed decreased velocity while blowing a save against the Nationals on Opening Day and the team just announced that he has a partially torn MCL in his elbow.
Parnell has been told to rest for two weeks, but Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports that surgery has not been ruled out eventually if the time off and platelet-rich plasma injections don’t do the trick.
All of which means that Jose Valverde has gone from scrap-heap minor-league signing to the Mets’ closer in … well, one game. He certainly has plenty of closing experience with 286 career saves.
Parnell had velocity issues throughout spring training and it was clearly he wasn’t fully recovered from neck surgery, but the Mets were committed to sticking with him in the closer role anyway. Now the job goes to the 36-year-old Valverde, who was released by the Tigers last season after just 19 innings.
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.