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Blue Jays reportedly considering Brett Gardner, not Bautista

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The rumor mill isn’t done with Jose Bautista just yet. Two days ago, Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported that the 36-year-old outfielder had engaged in contract discussions with the Blue Jays. It appeared to be a logical choice for both sides, as Bautista has a lengthy history in Toronto and the club wouldn’t have to forfeit a draft pick to re-sign their former slugger.

On Saturday, the Toronto Star’s Richard Griffin dispelled the rumor, saying that neither side had engaged in any serious discussions since Bautista rejected the club’s $17.2 million qualifying offer in November, despite talks at the Winter Meetings in early December. If any deal is extended to Bautista, Griffin believes it will be somewhere around one-year, $17 million — a far cry from the four-year, $100 million ballpark Bautista was previously eyeing.

Without Bautista, however, the Blue Jays have several options going forward, including veteran Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner. Gardner is slated to receive $25 million through 2018, with a $2 million buyout on his $12.5 option in 2019. Previous reports indicate that the Yankees are looking for a sizable return for the 33-year-old, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe suggests that the club has maintained their high asking price after receiving some underwhelming propositions. Whether the Blue Jays have serious interest in Gardner remains to be seen, and Griffin points out that Toronto could be in danger of losing its status as an “elite offensive team” if they can’t snag a hitter of Bautista’s caliber.

Joe Maddon: “I have a defensive foot fetish.”

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The Cubs’ defense — or lack thereof this year — has been a topic of conversation as it could help explain why the team hasn’t played at the elite level it played at last year.

Manager Joe Maddon tried to go into detail about that but ended up channeling his inner Rex Ryan. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney.

Well then.

The Nationals have scored 62 runs during four Joe Ross starts

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If, in the future, Joe Ross ever complains about a lack of run support, point to his first four starts of the 2017 season.

Ross started on April 19 in Atlanta against the Braves, on April 25 in Colorado against the Rockies, on April 30 at home against the Mets, and on May 23 at home against the Mariners. In those games, the Nats’ offense scored 14, 15, 23, and 10 runs respectively for a total of 62 runs, or an average of 15.5 per start. Ross was the pitcher of record for seven, eight, 10, and 10 runs for a total of 35 runs (8.75 runs per start), which would still make him the major league leader in run support by that restrictive standard.

Among qualified starters — Ross did not qualify — entering Tuesday’s action, the Rockies’ Antonio Senzatela led the way according to ESPN, averaging 7.11 runs of support in nine starts. The Rockies scored double-digit runs in only three of those starts, oddly enough.

Per the Nationals, the 62 runs of support for Ross is a major league record in a pitcher’s first four starts of a season.