The Blue Jays have signed outfielder Michael Saunders to a minor-league deal, per a club announcement. He had been released recently by the Phillies, who’ll pay all but a pro-rated portion of his $8MM salary for the rest of the season.
Saunders, 30, struggled badly after landing in Philadelphia over the winter. He ended his tenure there with 214 plate appearances of .205/.257/.360 hitting and six home runs. The Phils will also owe Saunders a $1MM payment to buy out his $11MM club option for 2018.
Toronto is obviously quite familiar with the veteran outfielder, as he posted a strong year therein 2016. Finally healthy for a full season, Saunders turned in a .253/.338/.478 batting line with 24 long balls over 558 plate appearances. Of course, he also fell off quite a bit in the second half after earning his first All-Star Game berth.
For the time being, Saunders will head to Triple-A. But it’s not hard to imagine him arriving back in the majors before too long. The Jays currently feature a corner outfield mix consisting of right-handed hitters Jose Bautista and Steve Pearce along with the lefty bats of Ezequiel Carrera and Ian Parmley. Adding Saunders to the mix could potentially allow the Jays to utilize Pearce at second base on occasion as well.