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Jose Bautista signs with Braves as third baseman

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This is fun: the Atlanta Braves have signed free agent Jose Bautista to a minor league contract. And they plan to use him as a third baseman.

Bautista has played nearly 400 games at third base in his career, but, while he’s taken a small handful of turns there over the past few seasons, he hasn’t played it regularly for a decade. Bautista will report to the club’s extended spring training complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, however, and start taking reps. At age 37, I seriously doubt he’ll be a positive defensive contributor there, but it’s kinda fun, isn’t it?

The point of grabbing Bautista, though, is that he could provide some nearly-free offense. Last year he put up his worse offensive season since his lost, early years in Pittsburgh, but still managed to hit 23 homers. He had an above-average batting line in 2016, however, and was downright valuable in 2015.

Is it likely that he’ll be a solid middle-of-the-order bat now? Nah, but it’s zero risk with at least some potential reward. And kudos to the Braves for at least attempting to think outside of the box and sign a guy who some fans might find enjoyable to watch in the event he can play his way into the lineup.

Royals, Alex Gordon close to contract agreement

Alex Gordon
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MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports that the Royals and outfielder Alex Gordon are “getting close” to an agreement on a one-year contract. Terms of the deal aren’t yet known, but the Royals could make it official within the next few days.

Gordon, who turns 36 years old next month, hit .266/.345/.396 with 13 home runs and 76 RBI over 633 plate appearances with the Royals this past season. His offense has waned, owning an adjusted OPS of 84 since 2016 (100 is average), but he still plays decent defense.

Gordon has spent all 13 years of his major league career with the Royals. With the club in a rebuilding phase, he will serve as the clubhouse leader and be a mentor to younger players on the roster.