As recently as two weeks ago Michael Saunders appeared to be in danger of playing himself out of the Mariners’ plans. He was hitting .226, had a career batting average under .200, and remained an everyday player largely due to the Mariners not having better options in center field.
And then something clicked for Saunders in a big way. He went 3-for-5 against the Rangers on May 29, notched three more hits the next day, had four hits two games later, tallied another three hits Tuesday, and kept rolling last night by going 3-for-5 versus the Angels.
Add it all up and Saunders went 18-for-36 (.500) with two homers and five doubles in an eight-game stretch, producing at least three hits in five of those games. To put that in some context, Saunders didn’t have three hits in any of his first 48 games this season and managed three hits just once in 58 games last season.
Eight games are only eight games, obviously, but Saunders’ minor-league track record always suggested he was capable of developing into a solid hitter and at age 25 he might finally be on track. And right now he’s the only Mariners hitter with an OPS above .800. His OPS eight days ago? .691.
The Twins are reportedly interested in signing free agent first baseman Logan Morrison, according to a report from Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The two sides don’t appear to be working toward anything concrete at the moment, but Berardino adds that newly-signed pitcher Jake Odorizzi has been having conversations with the slugger to gauge his interest in a potential deal.
Morrison, 30, enjoyed a tremendous season with the Rays in 2017. He finished his two-year circuit with the team after slashing .246/.353/.516 with a career-best 38 home runs, .363 wOBA and 3.3 fWAR in 601 plate appearances. It was just the second time he’d managed to produce more than 20 home runs in a single season, and he finished the year tied for fifth-most dingers in the AL and eighth-most in the league.
The free agent slugger has been linked to a plethora of interested parties this offseason, including the Red Sox, Royals, Indians, Angels and Mets, but hasn’t drawn any substantial offers in an admittedly slow market. Should he reach an agreement with the Twins, Berardino notes that the club could use him to back up both Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano in a dual first base/DH role.