Sep 19, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Seattle Mariners right fielder Michael Saunders (55) reaches on an error during the fourth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
The Toronto Blue Jays suffered a tremendous blow on Thursday when outfielder Michael Saunders stepped on a sprinkler head and tore the meniscus in his knee. As currently reported, the injury will cost the Blue Jays their starting left fielder until at least the All-Star break.
Unfortunately, the injury highlights a complete lack of depth in the outfield for the Blue Jays, who came to camp with just four outfielders on the team’s 40-man roster. The loss of Saunders knocks that down to three, putting the pressure on Jose Bautista, Dalton Pompey, and Kevin Pillar to stay healthy, and for the latter two to shine in their opportunity to claim a starting role. If either Pompey or Pillar struggle, the Blue Jays will have limited options to help out.
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With Saunders slated to return around the All-Star break, the team will be hesitant to bring in someone from outside the organization. If Toronto does make an external move, it will be either a waiver claim late in camp or a trade for a stop-gap quality player, preferably someone who could be held onto as depth for down the road as well. However, the team will likely spend most of its time evaluating those outfielders already in camp, and those that can be brought over from the minor league facility, and see what they have there first.
So what options do the Blue Jays already have in hand that could potentially step in and hold down the fort until Saunders returns?