Baltimore Orioles: Evaluating potential remaining free-agent options
Michael Saunders, OF
Michael Saunders is an intriguing buy-low candidate for the Orioles. He appeared destined for a rich, multi-year deal before flaming out spectacularly in the second half. After the break, Saunders slashed .178/.282/.357 with only eight home runs and 15 RBIs. He also has a history of knee troubles, and missed most of the 2015 season. That alone could keep the Orioles away unless the outfielder is willing to take a one-year deal.
For half a season last year, Saunders showed why he had always been such an intriguing prospect. He batted .298/.372/.551 with 16 homers and 25 doubles to earn his first All-Star nod. Those numbers obviously fell off a cliff.
Saunders is a career .235/.309/.402 hitter with nearly a strikeout per game. First half of 2016 aside, his ceiling may not be far off from the .253/.338/.478 line he finished the year with. Even in a pure platoon role, Saunders’ numbers do not promote much optimism.
So far, no team has stepped up to show much serious interest in Michael Saunders, and he is likely destined for a one-year deal in the $6-8 million range. That’s doable for the Orioles if they are willing to overlook his past injury issues, breakdown in the second half of 2016, and mediocre defense. Something tells me Saunders is a hard pass for the O’s.