(Flickr/Terry Foote)

Victoria’s Michael Saunders signs with Blue Jays

The locally-born outfielder is back with the club for the second time during his major league career.

Michael Saunders is back in the Toronto Blue Jays organization.

The Blue Jays announced Wednesday that the Victoria-born outfielder has signed a minor-league deal and will report to triple-A Buffalo. The move comes three days after Saunders was released by the Philadelphia Phillies.

Saunders previously spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons in Toronto after coming over from Seattle in a deal that sent pitcher J.A. Happ to the Mariners.

After missing most of the 2015 campaign with a torn meniscus suffered when he stepped on a sprinkler at the team’s spring training facility, Saunders rebounded with a strong start in 2016. He was named to the American League all-star team and headed into the break batting .298 with 16 home runs and 42 runs batted in.

His production fell sharply after the all-star break, and he hit .178 with eight homers and 15 RBIs the rest of the way.

He signed a one-year, US$8-million contract with Philadelphia in the off-season, but struggled at the plate again with a .205 average, six homers and 20 RBIs before being released.