Pirates sign Michael Saunders to minor league deal

The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed outfielder Michael Saunders to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

The Pirates announced the move a short time ago on Twitter.

Saunders, 31, batted .202/.256/.344 with six home runs and 21 RBIs in 73 games with the Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays last season.

After signing a one-year deal with Philadelphia in January 2016, he was designated for assignment by the Phillies on June 20 and was later released. Saunders signed a minor league deal to return to the Blue Jays shortly after his stint with Philadelphia.

He played in 35 games for AAA Buffalo where he hit .274 with two home runs and 12 RBIs before batting .167 in 12 games with Toronto.

While playing for the Blue Jays in 2016, Saunders was named an all-star for the first time. A monstrous first half fueled that selection as he batted .298/.372/.551 with 16 home runs in 82 games.

He came back down to earth in the second half, finishing the season with a .253 average, a career-high 24 home runs and 57 RBIs in 140 games. He also finished with a career-best 32 doubles.

Saunders has played in 775 career games at the major league level, sporting a career slash line of .232/.305/397. Here is a full look at his career by the numbers:

An 11th round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners in 2004, Saunders has been in the big leagues since 2009 and has experience at every position in the outfield. He has started 163 games in right field, 238 in center and 252 in left.

Saunders will likely fit in as another fourth outfield/platoon option, joining the Pirates other recent free agent signing, Daniel Nava, along with Bryce Brentz, who was acquired from the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday.

Adam Frazier is expected to be the starter in left field with Starling Marte in center and Gregory Polanco in right. The Pirates also have additional outfield depth with Sean Rodriguez and Jordan Luplow.

Jose Negron

Jose Negron is a 22 year old journalist from the North Huntingdon area. A recent graduate of California University of Pennsylvania, Jose has written for Rumbunter and Pirates Breakdown for the past year. He is the former Editor in Chief and Sports Editor of Cal U's campus newspaper, the Cal Times. He also covers high school sports for the Mon Valley Independent and serves as a contributor for Pittsburgh Sporting News, covering the Pirates. During the summer of 2015, he also interned with TribLive Radio, writing for their online blog, helping in the production of various radio shows and even appearing on the air.