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Phillies sign Michael Saunders to 1-year, $9 million deal

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With Jose Bautista likely returning to the Jays, Saunders reached a deal with Philadelphia on Monday.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Phillies have agreed to sign free-agent outfielder Michael Saunders to a one-year, $9 million deal, as first reported by Jon Morosi of MLB.com. As FOX’s Ken Rosenthal reports, the deal includes an $11 million club option for 2018 that could reach $14 million with escalators.

Saunders expressed his desire to return to the Blue Jays over the weekend, but had to quickly make other plans once news broke that slugger Jose Bautista was nearing a deal to return to Toronto. The Jays also signed Steve Pearce and Kendrys Morales to multi-year pacts this winter, eliminating the need for Saunders.

Philadelphia has been looking at available outfielders for weeks, being connected most frequently to Saunders and Brandon Moss. Saunders is the latest short-term addition of a busy Phils’ offseason, joining Howie Kendrick, Clay Buchholz, Joaquin Benoit and Pat Neshek as newcomers.

Saunders, 30, will start alongside Kendrick and Odubel Herrera in the Phillies’ outfield, pending another free-agent addition. Saunders hit .253/.338/.478 with 24 homers and 57 RBI for the Jays last year, being named to the AL All-Star team before a dismal second half in which he hit just