Blue Jays’ Michael Saunders on a Mission in 2016

Jays From the Couch review the Spring Stats of Jay Bruce and Michael Saunders , the main components of a failed trade between the Blue Jays and Cincinnati Reds



The trades you don’t make can turn out to be your best trades. This may be the case with the Michael Saunders for Jay Bruce for prospects trade. Early in spring training a trade which included the Toronto Blue Jays, Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim was rumored. The rumored deal fell apart due to a failed physical, presumably a prospect.

A month later, Michael Saunders is running away with Toronto’s starting left field job. The native of British Columbia has looked very good in the field, on the base paths and at the plate. So far Saunders is showing no ill effects from a knee injury suffered during the first week of last year’s spring training. Saunders would miss the entire 2015, with the exception of a hand full of games.

With Michael Saunders strong spring, Toronto will field an outfield of Saunders (LF), Kevin Pillar (CF) and Jose Bautista (RF). Saunders in an upgrade in the field over anyone the Blue Jays had patrolling LF in 2015, even better than the speedy Ben Revere.

Had the trade proposed trade for Jay Bruce been consummated the Blue Jays would have added a guy with solid base running skills, a good fielder, a home runs hitter, and guy looking to prove his best days are yet to come…..essentially the same attributes that Saunders brings to the table but without the power potential and $12.5 million price tag.

What’ s the latest on Jay Bruce?

Bruce is having a solid spring, entering his 9th season with the Reds. In the off-season Jay Bruce made a few adjustments to his swing, lowering his hands. The early returns have allowed Bruce to put up good spring numbers which will ultimately make it easier for the Reds to ship him out of town.

Spring Comparison 

Jay Bruce has hit .306 with an OPS of .903. He has played in 14 games with 3 doubles, a triple, a home run, 9 runs batted in, 4 walks, 6 strike outs, 2-for-4 in stolen bases, and 7 runs.

Michael Saunders has hit .333 with an OPS of 1.056. He has played in 13 games with 2 doubles, 3 home runs, 9 runs batted in, 3 walks, 9 strike outs, and 6 runs.

While Saunders has shown more power, Bruce has the edge this spring. Jay Bruce has shown a more complete game with Saunders early power surge pumping up his stats.

Closing Thoughts

The details as to why the trade failed remain vague. Rumors of the Reds absorbing $8M of Bruce’s $12.5M contract have recently surfaced, but the package of prospects the Reds would have received or the injured player remain a mystery.

The Reds will eventually trade Bruce for a handful of prospects as they look to strengthen their minor league system and off load over $25M in potential salary.

If Saunders can stay healthy, the Blue Jays will have a veteran bat with 15-20HR power potential. It is possible that Saunders sees time batting lead-off if Kevin Pillar falters, but he’ll need to put up better numbers than his career .230 BA and .682 OPS for that to happen.

The 29-yr-old Saunders will earn $2.9M in 2016  in his walking year. The Blue Jays left-fielder becomes an unrestricted free-agent at the end of 2016 as he enters his age 30 season, making him a low-cost, low risk, medium reward option in 2016.

With Dalton Pompey honing his skills in Buffalo, Jose Bautista future in Toronto a huge question, Anthony Alford still a year or two, and the likelihood of Saunders receiving a lucrative multi-year deal as free-agent, even if he has a career year, so it’s possible he could return in 2017 as he’s expressed a desire to remain with the Blue Jays.

A good non-trade.



*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0






Ryan Mueller

Lover of all things Toronto Blue Jays. Blue Jays MiLB fanatic. I strive for average while stumbling onto above average. Rogers isn't cheap. Baseball is a business. Your right, but I'm more right.