The Pittsburgh Pirates announced on Wednesday afternoon that they have signed outfielder Michael Saunders to a minor league deal, with an invite to Major League Spring Training. The 31-year-old Saunders has nine years worth of big league experience.
Saunders split the 2017 season between the Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays, hitting a combined .202/.256/.344 in 73 games. He spent part of the season in Triple-A. It was a large drop-off from his 2016 season when he hit .253/.338/.478 for Toronto, making his first All-Star game appearance. In nine seasons, he has a .232/.305/.397 slash line over 775 games. Saunders has split his time fairly evenly between all three outfield spots during his pro career, with the most time coming in center field. Despite the versatility, Baseball-Reference has him as a -3.6 dWAR in his career.
Saunders joins a crowded outfield in Spring Training right now, competing for either the left field starting spot or the 4th/5th outfield spots. The Pirates picked up outfielder Bryce Brentz from the Red Sox yesterday and they signed Daniel Nava earlier this month. Saunders gives them another left-handed hitting option in their large group of outfielders.