Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders was initially expected to miss all of the first half of the regular season after tearing the meniscus in his left knee on Wednesday. However, Saunders underwent surgery to remove the meniscus on Friday and the timeline has been altered to five to six weeks, as Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reports.
Why the change? The tear was so severe that it could not be repaired, only removed. The initial plan was to fix the meniscus and that comes with a longer period of recovery, but once Saunders was on the operating table and the damage was assessed, “it wasn’t even an option,” according to GM Alex Anthopoulos.
The Blue Jays acquired Saunders from the Mariners in December in exchange for pitcher J.A. Happ. The Jays are reportedly interested in free agent outfielder Dayan Viciedo, but their need for outfield depth isn’t as great now that Saunders should return in the latter half of April as opposed to July.
The Mariners are in the midst of reconstructing their roster, a process which most recently resulted in the trade of first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnación to the Yankees, per a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan. While the teams have yet to publicly confirm the deal, the Mariners are expected to receive pitching prospect Juan Then and will likely eat a significant portion of Encarnación’s salary as well.
Encarnación is a sizable get for the Yankees, who could benefit from the veteran’s power and consistency in their ongoing drive toward the postseason. The 36-year-old infielder missed some time with a bout of lower back tightness, dental issues, and soreness in his left hand, but has still maintained a decent .241/.356/.531 batting line with an AL-best 21 home runs, an .888 OPS, and 1.7 fWAR through his first 289 plate appearances of the year. Per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, Encarnación has another $11-12 million left on his contract in 2019, with a $20 million option for the 2020 season and a $5 million buyout.
Then, 19, was acquired by the Yankees in a three-person trade with the Mariners during the 2017 offseason. The right-hander currently ranks no. 27 in the Yankees’ system and made his last pro ball appearance for New York’s rookie-level affiliate in 2018, pitching to a 2.70 ERA, 2.0 BB/9, and 7.6 SO/9 across 50 innings. It’s not clear if any other players are involved in the trade, though USA Today’s Bob Nightengale notes that no other prospects are thought to be included in the package for Encarnación.