Released by the Rangers last week, left-hander Joe Saunders has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Royals and will report to Triple-A.
Saunders has repeatedly insisted on being viewed only as a starter despite having a 5.42 ERA in 40 starts since the beginning of last season and career-long platoon splits that suggest the 33-year-old could still fare well as a situational southpaw reliever.
Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes that the Royals indeed still view Saunders as a starter, but may also try to use him as a middle reliever down the stretch. For now he’ll try to impress in Omaha.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.