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Michael Saunders, Round Two

2016 MLB All-Star Michael Saunders is back! The Blue jays have inked our old friend to a minor league deal and he’ll immediately report to Triple-A Buffalo.

Saunders, as you’ll remember, had a wicked good first half for the Jays last season. At one point in mid-June, he had a OPS of .999 and was inexplicably mashing in the seventh inning or later like it was going out of style. He rode that hot streak all the way to an appearance at the All-Star game, thanks largely to a Captain Canada marketing campaign and a dedicated fanbase who cares about that kind of thing.

After that, as you’ll also remember, everything came crashing down. Saunders cooled off down the stretch, ultimately finishing the 2016 season with a decent .815 OPS. He lost his position in left field to Zeke “Playoff Legend” Carrera, and was relegated to the designated hitter role in the playoffs.

At this time last year, Saunders seemed like an important part of the Blue Jays future. Hell, I remember there being talk about Toronto offering him a long-term deal instead of Jose Bautista. Jesse Spector thought that the Jays were dummies for opting to bring back Bautista over Saunders as recently as January.  Well, now they have both! Woohoo!

Saunders wasn’t offered a qualifying offer and he ended up signing a one-year, $8 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies that featured options and bonuses that could reach $14 million if activated. Saunders played 61 games for the Phillies before being released last week. He slashed a paltry .205/.257/.360 line with the Phillies, which was even worse than his cold streak down the stretch in Toronto last year.

Anyways, this is a why the hell not? kind of deal for the Blue Jays, who’ve had a difficult time with injuries all season. Saunders seemed to be happy in Toronto, and if Steve Pearce or Carrera go down with injury again, he likely makes a better replacement than some of the other options the Jays have rolled through.