The Phillies came to terms with free agent outfielder Michael Saunders today. It has been reported that he agreed to a one-year contract at $9M with an $11M club option and $1M buyout for 2018. The signing occurs in the wake of team president Andy MacPhail stating during an interview on the MLB Network last week that the Phillies were in search of a left-handed bat.
To many, Saunders represents the left-handed power that the team needs to bolster its offensively challenged line up. The 2016 first-time All Star had a break out first half only to crater with “Howard-like” numbers in the second half. In addition to a diminished slash , his strike out rate rose above 30%. The 30-year old rebounded from knee surgery to play a full season in 2016, however his normally above-average defense suffered.
MLB Trade Rumors has a good article describing some of the pros and cons regarding Saunders. I guess it’s good to see the Phillies front office follow through on their intention to sign or trade for a perceived need. And this signing will probably make the Phillies a little better to watch at CBP and on TV.
However, I’m not fond of this signing. (Note, opinion follows, not fact) An outfield of Howie Kendrick-Odubel Herrera-Saunders represents a roadblock to Roman Quinn and Nick Williams. I would much rather see the prospects play on a team that will still likely fall short of a .500 record this season. And, while talk of flipping him at the trade deadline trade is nice, what possible prospect haul can we reasonably expect to garner for a player in which no other team was willing to add to their rosters when he would only cost them dollars. Our cost is the delayed progression of our prospects.
But then again, maybe the Phillies have made up their minds already. Maybe Saunders isn’t so much a roadblock to Quinn and Wiliams as he is a bridge to Dylan Cozens and Andrew Pullin. Perhaps I’ve fallen into the trap of over-valuing our prospects.