Matt Klentak has gotten the Phillies their left-handed outfield bat
Nearly every member of the Phillies executive team has publicly voiced their desire to add a left-handed bat to the line-up. Brandon Moss and Michael Saunders were among the hot names on the market, and the Phillies have landed one of those big bats.
According to Jon Morosi, the Phillies are on the verge of signing Michael Saunders to be their starting right fielder for 2017. Jon Heyman says the deal is expected to be one year, with a possible option. A club option would increase Saunders value at the trade deadline, giving the other team the option to make him more than a rental
Saunders hit 24 home runs last year, and made his first All-Star game with the Blue Jays.
Sources: Saunders deal with #Phillies one year, $9M with club option. Option worth $11M, can increase to as much as $14M with escalators.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 16, 2017
With Saunders expected to start in right field up until the trade deadline, fans can expect Roman Quinn to get some much-needed at-bats in Lehigh Valley to start the season. Quinn made his major league debut last year coming straight from Reading, and was a candidate to start in right field on the major league roster.
This move also spells bad news for Aaron Altherr, who may be relegated to the bench after a rough 2016 season.
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A torn meniscus and inflammation in the injured knee forced Saunders to miss all but nine games in 2015. He’ll provide power in the middle of the Phillies line-up, playing a similar role to Hunter Pence many years ago.
Saunders’ career-high in games played came last year at 140, but he’s only played in 100 games three other times in his eight-year career.
Expect Saunders to hit in the four hole, with Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph on either side of him on the line-up card.
With Saunders now on board, the Phillies opening day outfield projects to be Howie Kendrick in left, Odubel Herrera in center, and Saunders in right.
Saunders has a lot of experience playing all three outfield positions, logging 113 innings in right, 264 in center, and 284 in left.
Saunders brings a distant connection to the Phillies, as he was traded for former Philadelphia pitcher J.A. Happ prior to the 2015 season in a deal between Seattle and Toronto.