The Baltimore Orioles announced on Monday that they have signed outfielder Michael Saunders to a minor-league contract and have assigned him to the Triple-A Norfolk Tides. Saunders can make $1.5 million, with up to $3 million in incentives, if he is able to crack the Major League Baseball roster.
Saunders has bounced around quite a bit over the past few months. He had initially signed to compete for a job in the Piitsburgh Pirates camp, however was granted his release following the unexpected acquisition of Corey Dickerson after a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. He quickly caught on with the Kansas City Royals, with whom he spent the spring. All told, the 31-year-old slashed a solid, albeit unspectacular .275/.356/.350 with a 9:5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in spring training.
Saunders will provide the O’s with some veteran depth in case of further injury. Baltimore wound up carrying four non-roster players from spring training, mainly due to injuries throughout the club. The birds hope that they will be able to be the team that Saunders recaptures that glimpse of success with.
It’s worth noting that the left-handed hitter slashed .253/.338/.478 with 24 home runs and 74 runs batted in with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2016. Saunders earned his first and only berth into the All-Star Game that season thanks his .298 batting average in the first half of the campaign. Saunders ended 2017 back with the Jays after an unsuccessful stint with the Philadelphia Phillies.Journeyman slugger Michael Saunders has signed a minor-league deal with the Baltimore @Orioles.Click To Tweet
My projections have Saunders at .239/.285/.396 with 13 home runs over 305 plate appearances, which is certainly better than his dismal 2017 season in which he batted just .202/.256/.344 with six home runs. All in all, it’s a no-risk, potentially decent-reward signing that could help an organization void of power-hitting outfield depth tack on more home runs and extra base hits, especially in an American League East division full of outfield sluggers.