2014 MLB Draft: Picks 6-10 – Phillies think short-term with Aaron Nola

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No. 6 pick: Mariners select high school outfielder Alex Jackson
It’s the first time the Mariners have selected a high school player with their first pick since Nick Franklin in 2009. Jackson was primarily a catcher in high school, but the Mariners announced him as an outfielder, which doesn’t come as much of a surprise. His bat should develop more quickly freed from the responsibility of catching, and he has big-time potential as a power hitter.

No. 7 pick: Phillies select LSU right-hander Aaron Nola
This was a predictable pick; the Phillies don’t want to rebuild, and Nola is a guy who will move quickly. He went 11-1 with a 1.47 ERA and a 134/27 K/BB ratio in 116 1/3 innings for LSU this season. Nola throws in the low-90s with a plus changeup and a slider. He could become a No. 3 starter in short order.

No. 8 pick: Rockies select Evansville left-hander Kyle Freeland
Evansville is returning home to Colorado after going to college in Indiana. After two years of very modest numbers, the left-hander was 10-2 with a 1.90 ERA and a 128/13 K/BB in 99 2/3 innings this year. He throws in the low-90s and has an excellent slider, and the Rockies will hope those two offerings are good enough to keep him out of the pen for the long haul.

No. 9 pick: Blue Jays select East Carolina right-hander Jeff Hoffman
Hoffman was in the running to become the top overall pick before requiring Tommy John surgery. He’ll miss most or all of next season, but that’s not as much as a hit to a prospect’s stock as it used to be, if only because the assumption now is that most of the alternatives are going to need surgery somewhere down the line anyway. Hoffman threw in the mid-90s with an excellent curveball before getting hurt.

No. 10 pick: Mets selected Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto
Conforto has ample power potential from the left side of the plate, though his swing produced just seven homers in 203 at-bats this season. He did hit .345/.504/.547 overall, so it’s certainly not like he had a bad year. He won’t be a plus in the outfield — he’s likely to be limited to left — so he’ll have to hit his way to the majors. He was one of the most advanced bats available, though.

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.