The Toronto Blue Jays are big believers in outfielder Michael Saunders, even though they nearly traded him before the 2016 season in a rumored three-way deal involving Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds and the Los Angeles Angels.
At the most recent Pitch Talks event in Toronto, Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro opened up about the club’s interest in Bruce.
“That trade was about a second year of control,” Shapiro said. “It wasn’t about not liking Michael Saunders. We love him and want him to be on the field and playing. We actually felt better about Michael’s upside than Jay Bruce’s upside. The extra year of control and maybe a bit more certainty were the reasons behind it.”
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Saunders, 29, is hitting .263/.300/.474 with one home run, three RBI, five strikeouts, and one walk in 20 plate appearances for Toronto this season.
The Canadian missed the majority of the 2015 season, his first year with the Blue Jays, after tearing his knee on a sprinkler during spring training. He only appeared in nine games, and has dealt with durability issues in the past.
Shapiro said the Blue Jays were in contact with Saunders throughout the trade talks and were impressed by how he responded.
“He said to Ross (Atkins), this will be the best non-trade that you ever made,” said Shapiro.