Veteran outfielder Saunders signs minor-league deal with Orioles

April 02, 2018 | Luke Jones

After showing interest on numerous occasions in the past, the Orioles have signed veteran outfielder Michael Saunders to a minor-league contract.

The 31-year-old spent time with Pittsburgh and Kansas City this spring and will now try to get his career back on track at Triple-A Norfolk. The addition of Saunders offers the Orioles another lefty-hitting outfield option after the likes of Colby Rasmus, Alex Presley, and Jaycob Brugman joined the organization this offseason.

Saunders had an excellent first half of 2016 with Toronto to earn a trip to his first All-Star Game, hitting .298 with 16 home runs, 42 runs batted in, and a .923 on-base plus slugging percentage. However, his career has taken a nosedive since then as he’s batted .191 with 14 homers and an anemic .618 OPS in his last 448 major league plate appearances. This will be his fifth different major league organization since the end of 2016.

In nine major league seasons primarily as a part-time player, Saunders owns a .232 average with 81 home runs, 263 RBIs, and a .701 OPS in 2,747 career plate appearances with Seattle, Toronto, and Philadelphia.

Upon announcing the Saunders signing, the Orioles made note of his impressive career numbers at Oriole Park at Camden Yards that include a .310 average with 10 homers and 24 RBIs in 84 career at-bats. He leads all active players (minimum 20 games) with a 1.129 OPS at Camden Yards.

Of course, he had the benefit of feasting on Baltimore pitching as part of that comfort level, making those numbers less significant.

The Orioles also announced they’ve traded right-handed relief pitcher Stefan Crichton to Arizona for a player to be named later or cash considerations. They also traded right-hander Jesus Liranzo to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for left-handed pitcher Luis Ysla, who will be assigned to Double A Bowie.

Crichton and Liranzo were two of four pitchers designated for assignment last week to make room on the 40-man roster.