Perhaps lost in all of the celebration regarding the end of 2018 was a minor league signing by the Colorado Rockies of an outfielder with plenty of Major League experience.
Michael Saunders, who has 775 MLB games under his belt in a nine-year career, reportedly inked a deal with the Colorado Rockies. The signing does not include a spot on the 40-man roster, which is currently full after the signing of infielder Daniel Murphy.
Saunders last saw action in the Majors in 2017 with the Toronto Blue Jays, ending a three-year run north of the border. The 32-year-old has also played for the Seattle Mariners and Philadelphia Phillies.
He was voted to the 2016 American League All-Star team while with the Blue Jays, finishing the season with a .253/.338/.478 slash line with 24 home runs and 57 RBI. However, after June 17, he hit just .202 and was not re-signed by the Blue Jays in free agency.
Heading to the Phillies for the 2017 campaign, his struggles continued as he hit just .205 in 214 plate appearance. He was designated for assignment midway through the campaign and subsequently released, where he was re-signed by the Blue Jays and played in just 12 contests.
Last season, playing in the minors, he struggled again at the plate, being cut by the Chicago White Sox organization after hitting just .158/.272/.248 in 38 games.
This is a simple case of the Rockies taking a flyer on a player with plenty of big league experience in an area where youth currently prevails. With Gerardo Parra and Carlos Gonzalez likely not returning in 2019, Colorado will lean on young players such as David Dahl, Noel Cuevas, Raimel Tapia and Mike Tauchman to fill in the gaps where needed. There is some experience there … but not as much as Saunders brings to the organization.
It also adds another left-handed bat into the mix, something the Rockies already have plenty of with Dahl, Blackmon, Tapia and Tauchman.
Much like when the Rockies signed Ryan Howard to a minor league deal, it’s a low-risk/high-reward move. If Saunders continues to struggle, it costs Colorado very little. If he rediscovers his swing, it could pay dividends if an injury were to occur or a boost was needed in the lineup.
Based on what Saunders has shown in recent years, it could be a stretch to say we will see him at Coors Field in the near future, if at all in 2019.