The Phillies found the veteran hitter they sought this offseason by signing outfielder Michael Saunders.

The deal first became known on Monday, and was made official by the team on Thursday. Pitcher Severino Gonzalez was designated for assignment to make room for Saunders on the 40-man roster.

It's a one-year deal that, according to a source, guarantees Saunders $9 million and has a club option for 2018. He will earn $8 million this season and will be paid $1 million if the Phillies decline his 2019 option. The option is worth $9 million and could grow to $11 million with incentives.

The lefthanded hitter was an all-star last season with Toronto and hit 24 homers with 57 RBIs. Saunders batted .253 with an .815 OPS in 490 at-bats. He struggled in the season's second-half, batting just .178 with eight homers and a .638 OPS in 185 at-bats after the all-star break.

Saunders is expected to start in right field and bat in the middle of the lineup, which would bring some balance to righthanders Tommy Joseph, Maikel Franco, and Howie Kendrick, who was acquired in November and should start the season in left field.

Saunders missed the majority of the 2015 season with a left knee injury that stemmed from a spring training mishap when he stepped on a sprinkler while trying to shag fly balls. He had surgery and returned in April but was placed back on the disabled list in May after just nine games. He will be 25 months removed from surgery on opening day.

Signing Saunders has little impact on the team's roster flexibility as Odubel Herrera is the lone starting outfielder signed for 2018. Roman Quinn and Aaron Altherr, who both played last season in the majors, will compete in spring training for bench roles. Dylan Cozens and Nick Williams, two top prospects, will start the season at triple A. Cornelius Randolph and Mickey Moniak, the team's last two first-round picks, are still in the lower levels of the minor leagues.

Saunders could help the team in 2017 and is young enough to be part of the next contending Phillies team if he is part of the club's plans. The one-year contract comes with little risk. If Saunders succeeds, the Phillies could opt to deal him at the trade deadline or exercise his club-friendly option for 2018. If he flounders, he could be replaced by one of the team's young outfielders and the Phillies would exercise just a $1 million buyout for 2018.