All-Star free agent outfielder Michael Saunders garnering interest from several teams

Written by: Kyle Andrews — Staff Writing Intern (@KyleAndrews1994)

Free agent outfielder Michael Saunders and is among the outfielders that the Philadelphia Phillies are looking at, according to Ken Rosenthal’s sources.

“The club also would be interested in a trade for a hitter such as the Mets’ Jay Bruce if they could pull off such a move without giving up any significant prospects, the way it did in acquiring left fielder Howie Kendrick and right-hander Clay Buchholz earlier this offseason.”

Saunders, 30, batted .253/.338/.478 with 24 homers in 558 plate appearances, making it to his first All-Star Game in 2016. He has a career line of .235/.309/.402.

Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com also mentioned that Saunders could be a possibility for the Orioles. However, because of his injury history (missing 237 games between the 2014–2015 seasons) he would probably be brought in on a one-year deal, if at all.

“They’d be much more comfortable giving him a one-year deal,” said Kubatko. “There are some lingering questions about him physically. I’d be more concerned about the career .309 on-base percentage and slippage in his defensive metrics.”

Saunders also fits the Orioles needs for a left-handed bat. He plays the corner outfield (left field mostly) and has the ability to play center. His addition would check all of the boxes for Baltimore, if his injury history wasn’t there.

The Orioles have had historically tough physical examinations to pass. Names that come to mind are pitchers Grant Balfour and current Oriole Yovani Gallardo. The Orioles had signed Balfour to replace Jim Johnson as their closer, but Balfour couldn’t pass the physical. Gallardo still had some shoulder issues, so instead of receiving a three-year deal, he received a two-year deal.

The Blue Jays have already signed Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce. They are also interested in bringing back Jose Bautista, so the interest may be low for Saunders to return. This is despite the fact that Saunders is Canadian and had a career year with the Jays.

There are also a few other teams in the mix, including the Toronto Blue Jays and the Cleveland Indians. The Indians have offered Saunders a one-year deal according to Jon Heyman:

Saunders will most likely have to settle for a one-year deal. Cleveland makes the most sense because they need an insurance policy for outfielder Michael Brantley and they are the only team that offered Saunders a contract so far. Brantley only played in 11 games in 2016 due to injury.

Originally posted on The Grandstand on 01/09/2017.