MLB Rumors: Michael Saunders close to deal with Phillies

Michael Saunders and the Philadelphia Phillies are reportedly close to a deal.

According to Jon Morosi of MLB Network, the Philadelphia Phillies are close to a deal with free-agent outfielder Michael Saunders. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports is reporting that the sides were a one-year deal with potential options. Saunders made the 2016 All-Star team while playing for the Toronto Blue Jays.

After earning his first All-Star nod, Saunders appeared to be in line for a multi-year contract. At the end of the first half, he was batting .298/.372/.551 with 16 homers and 42 RBIs. Saunders seemed to finally be living up to the lofty prospect status that had followed him earlier in his career.

In the second half, however, Saunders slumped to a .178/.282/.357 line with only eight home runs and 15 RBIs in 58 games. His struggles weighed heavily on the Blue Jays, and nearly contributed to the team missing the playoffs. A history of knee troubles may also have scared some teams away from signing Saunders.

It is unclear what Saunders’ role will be with the Phillies. He projects as a pure platoon option after hitting only .233/.294/.392 against left-handers for his career to date. Saunders does not exactly possess great numbers against right-handers either, slashing .236/.315/.406.

The Phillies are nearing the end of their rebuilding process, and are stacked with talent in their starting rotation. Around the diamond, especially in the outfield, they are a bit behind in terms of seeing prospects arrive in the big leagues and contribute. Center fielder Odubel Herrera is one of the best young outfielders in the game. Howie Kendrick was acquired, and is penciled in as the starter in left field.

Right field is currently occupied by Roman Quinn and Aaron Altherr, but the Phillies may prefer to shield those two as their development continues. For a team without real shot at contending in 2017, taking a flier on Saunders, who has shown flashes of greatness at times, is a solid low-risk, high-reward move for the Phillies.

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