The Philadelphia Phillies are making all the right moves, even if fans can’t see the big picture. The Phils, in my opinion, can be contenders for the NL East crown in 2017, and while I get laughed at for saying this, they must understand that baseball is not like any other sport.
A big name or contract does not guarantee you success. Ask the Los Angeles Angels and Mike Trout how the postseason taste. What the Phils are doing is taking a page out the Kansas City Royals and Chicago Cubs playbook. No need to go All-Star heavy, but rather promote and build from within, then make the minor tweaks that are necessary. The Phillies signed outfielder Michael Saunders to a one-year deal Monday worth $9M in 2017.
Saunders hit .253 with 24 home runs, 57 RBIs in 490 ABs in 2016. But, he stayed on the market a while longer than most because he offers the unknown. Saunders was an All-Star last season and that was due to his torrid start in the first half as he smashed 16 home runs. But he cooled off in the second and that’s the reason why the Phillies were able to scoop him up for cheap.
Now, Saunders gets a new shot with a team that had trouble on the offensive side of the coin. The Phils can not go into this marriage thinking that Saunders will return to his pre-All-Star form, as that’s not the player that he is. He’s average at best but he’s postseason-tested and that’s what the Phils needed and for a cheap price. 24 home runs are not bad and with Citizen Bank Park being a hitter paradise, Saunders may see a slight jump in his BA.
Keep in mind that this signing may not be geared toward the 2017 season. The Phils are loading up to make moves. What they did this year was sign players to one-year deals. If the Phils struggle, they will become sellers come the trade deadline and begin to stock their farm system with players and draft picks. This is a smart move.
The addition of Saunders is a bonus. If Saunders has a great first half and the Phils are still in the basement then they can trade him to another team and get some value in return. Saunders is only 30 years old and the Phis can dangle him in front of a team like the Texas Rangers or the Baltimore Orioles for his production and his low contract. Fans are a little miffed that there was no signing of an Edwin Encarnacion or Jose Bautista but the team is not at that point in the rebuild yet.
The Saunders signing was not a risk, it’s a move geared towards the future. The Phillies needed a piece to the puzzle and he was the perfect fit.