This is an important month for Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders of Victoria, B.C. On June 28, Saunders signed as a free agent with Toronto after being released by the Philadelphia Phillies on June 23.
However the Blue Jays sent Saunders down to AAA Buffalo instead of finding a spot for him on the regular roster. In 146 games for the Bisons, Saunders had a respectable average of .274, but struggled with power as he only had two home runs.
Due to Major League Baseball’s wonky rules of expanded rosters for the month of September, it gave the Blue Jays an opportunity to find a spot for Saunders on their active roster. He was called up back to the Major Leagues on Friday. Saunders had two at bats this week when they Blue Jays faced the Baltimore Orioles. On Friday, he struck out in a 1-0 Blue Jays loss, and on Sunday he had a RBI single that scored Ryan Goins.
The bottom line is this is an opportunity for Saunders to salvage his career. Just last year, Saunders was an all-star and represented the American League in the all-star game. The future looked bright.
The problem was that Saunders had a horrendous second half of the regular season last year. He saw his batting average drop from .298 to .253. Saunders only had one home run in the entire month of September, and despite an excellent American League Championship Series where he batted .429 in 14 at bats against the Cleveland Indians, the Blue Jays decided to go with a combination of Steve Pearce and Ezequiel Carrera in left field to start 2017 than rely on their Canadian product.
Saunders signed a huge one year contract with Philadelphia worth $9 million, with a club option for a second year worth $11 million on Jan. 16. Saunders never found his form with the Phillies as he batted only .205 in 200 at bats. With the Phillies struggling and one of the worst teams in the National League, they continued with their rebuilding process and decided not to keep a roster spot for the pride of Victoria.