Derek Dietrich has been the Marlins’ starting second baseman since being called up from the minors in the middle of last season and he’s actually hit well this year with a .773 OPS in 41 games, but he’s been demoted back to Triple-A because the team thinks his defense is terrible.
Dietrich has seven errors, which is tied for the MLB lead among second basemen, and Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald writes that he “has had plenty of defensive struggles” even beyond the error total. Ultimate Zone Rating agrees, pegging Dietrich as 9.0 runs below average in 800 career innings at the position.
But still: 24-year-old middle infielders with a .773 OPS don’t grow on trees and Dietrich’s defensive numbers aren’t considerably worse than plenty of other regulars with good bats. He’s a former Rays second-round draft pick who was acquired by the Marlins in exchange for Yunel Escobar and certainly seems good enough to remain in their long-term plans.
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.