6:38pm: Saunders can earn $1.5MM on the MLB roster with as much as $500K in available incentives, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com tweets.
When Saunders put pen to paper with Pittsburgh, he was slated to battle with Daniel Nava and others for a spot in the outfield mix. But the Bucs’ recent acquisition of Corey Dickerson left Saunders without much of a path to the MLB roster.
Saunders’s agent, Barry Meister, says the Pirates allowed his client to pursue other opportunities after the new development, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter links). Meister says the team “should be commended for their player-friendly, honest and transparent behavior.”
At the end of the day, then, Saunders will enter a different but perhaps even more promising situation in Kansas City. He’ll still need to earn his way onto the roster, but there’s a solid chance he can do so with a good performance this spring. Outside of Alex Gordon, the Royals are thin in terms of lefty outfield bats; Saunders will presumably compete with non-roster invitees Cody Asche and Tyler Collins in camp for a chance at a role in the majors.
Saunders is coming off of a miserable 2017 season and has a long history of injury troubles. But he has had some quality campaigns in the majors, including a 2016 effort with the Blue Jays in which he posted a .253/.338/.478 batting line over 558 plate appearances. At his best, he has also graded well in the field and on the bases, so it could be that the 31-year-old still has some productive seasons ahead of him.