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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.

Robinson Canó benched for lack of hustle

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Mets second baseman Robinson Canó is not in the lineup for Monday’s series opener against the division rival Nationals. Per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, it’s punishment for failing to run hard on a pair of double plays over the weekend against the Marlins.

Manager Mickey Callaway said, “He understands that it’s unacceptable to not run balls out. He understands that he needs to do that at all times.”

Canó first gaffe came in the top of the seventh inning on Friday, with his team trailing 7-3. Facing Adam Conley, Canó hit a grounder back to the pitcher, who turned a 1-6-3 double play. Canó was only halfway up the first base line when the throw got to first base.

In the fourth inning on Sunday, with the game still scoreless, Canó tapped a Sandy Alcantara pitch in the dirt. Thinking it was foul, Canó didn’t run, but catcher Chad Wallach charged and grabbed the ball while it was still in fair territory. He threw to second base for the force out and then the ball was easily whipped to first base to complete the double play as Canó still thought it was foul.

This likely wouldn’t be as big a deal as it currently is if Canó were actually producing at the plate and if the Mets weren’t in a freefall. Canó has a .245/.293/.374 batting line on the season. Meanwhile, the Mets are 20-25 and riding a five-game losing streak which includes having been shut out in each of their last two games.