Twins interested in left-hander Joe Saunders

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Back in November while previewing the Twins’ various free agent pitching options I highlighted Joe Saunders as someone they were likely to be interested in and perhaps overpay.

Since then they’ve been linked to Saunders occasionally, but that has mostly died down recently until today: Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that the Twins are “pursuing” Saunders.

Presumably that means he’s dropped his demands to a one- or two-year deal, because while Minnesota can certainly use any rotation help it can get after signing only Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey, and Rich Harden as free agents they’d be making a mistake to view Saunders as more than a fourth or fifth starter.

He’d be another low-velocity, low-strikeout, low-upside starter for a Twins team that has repeatedly stressed getting away from that type of pitcher lately, but on a one-year deal Saunders would certainly make sense.

Yankees set to activate Giancarlo Stanton on Tuesday

Giancarlo Stanton
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Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton is set to return from the injured list on Tuesday, manager Aaron Boone told reporters on Sunday. The timing coincides well with the addition of Edwin Encarnación, who was acquired from the Mariners on Saturday evening and is expected to be active and available for the Yankees as soon as Monday night.

The Yankees have every reason to hope that Stanton will be able to return to his usual 30+ homer, 4.0+ fWAR self as he works his way back to a full-time role this season. (Fueling some of that hope: Four home runs in 10 PA at High-A Tampa during his latest stretch of rehab games.) Undoubtedly, they’re still prepared to play it safe with the 29-year-old, who has already suffered significant shoulder, biceps, and calf injuries and has not appeared in a major-league game since March 31. Through the Yankees’ first three games of 2019, he went 2-for-15 with a pair of singles, seven walks, and four strikeouts.

With Encarnación slotting into a DH/first base role, Stanton is expected to spend the bulk of his playing time in the left field corner. That may cause a bit of a logjam in the outfield, as Brett Gardner took over that spot in Stanton’s absence and will likely be forced into a backup role once Aaron Judge returns from the IL — but for now, Boone says, he “still expects Gardy to play a lot.”