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Storylines: Danny Duffy and Kansas City Royals agree on five-year deal

The Royals reached an agreement with a pending free agent plus all the other news and notes from Monday...

Top Storylines:

- With the Kansas City Royals facing the painful fate of losing several of their key players to free agency in the coming years, they are doing all they can to at least keep a few core players under contract.  The Royals have focused their attention on their young pitchers as they have reached a five-year, $65MM extension with lefty Danny Duffy per Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.  The contract does not have any trade-protection clauses nor does it contain any options.  The southpaw was set for free agency the following season so the extension covers his final year of arbitration along with his first four years of free agency.  The young southpaw was by far the best pitcher on the Royals last season as he tossed an ERA of 3.51 throughout 179.1 innings of work along with a 9.4 SO/9 ratio and a 36.4% groundball rate.  He was a bright spot in a season plagued with many ups and downs.  The Royals will now look to have their rotation headlined by both Duffy and fellow pitcher Yordano Ventura at the top for years to come as Ventura also signed an extension that keeps him under contract throughout 2022.

Other Storylines:

- The Philadelphia Phillies have agreed to sign outfielder Michael Saunders to a one-year, $9MM deal per Jon Morosi of MLB Network.  The deal contains an $11MM club option for 2018 and a $1MM buyout after 2017 thus the guaranteed $9MM in upfront.  Saunders had expressed an interest in returning to the Blue Jays but that clearly will not be happening.

- The Blue Jays and Jose Bautista are moving closer towards a deal.  They are now discussing a one-year deal with a mutual club option in 2018 per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Bautista will reportedly take earn an annual average more than the qualifying offer he was given at the start of free agency and will still return to city where he has carved out a nice career.

- The Houston Astros are continuing their search of another starting pitcher. They have reportedly maintained contact with the Oakland Athletics about righty-hander Sonny Gray per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Despite a down year in 2016, Gray is still an attractive trade target given his youth and upside but will not come cheaply and will require a package of young talented players to convince the Athletics to deal him.

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