We’re fairly late into the offseason, and several pitchers have already been signed or acquired through trade. Still, several intriguing starting options remain on the trade and free agent markets. One of those names is former Diamondbacks starting pitcher Joe Saunders. Yesterday, Saunders had his name tied to the Red Sox and Orioles and it’s also been rumored that the Marlins have checked in on the veteran lefty.
Last season for the Diamondbacks, Saunders pitched quite well. Over his 212 innings, Saunders maintained and ERA of 3.69 and a 1.307 WHIP.
Still, Saunders was entering another year of arbitration and the Diamondbacks didn’t want to give the 30-year-old the projected $8 million it would have cost to retain him.
Now a free agent, Saunders can sign with any team he’d like and is a candidate to ink a multi-year deal.
Over the past several seasons, though his peripherals have been less than impressive, Saunders has proven that he’s an innings-eater. Since 2008, Saunders has logged at least 186 frames per year and reached the 200 innings plateau the past two seasons.
This has teams that are looking for rotation upgrades, but not necessarily elite arms, interested in Saunders.
The Orioles could use another veteran arm to compliment Jeremy Guthrie atop their rotation. With several young pitchers likely to take the mound for the O’s in 2012, an additional innings-eater would serve Baltimore well.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has said he’s comfortable with his current rotation, but many believe he is seeking additional starting pitching this winter. Anyone Boston brings in will likely slide into the back of the Red Sox staff, and Saunders would be a nice, dependable fit behind Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz.
Saunders appears to be less of a fit for the Marlins. Miami’s real connection with Saunders is that he is a starting pitcher. So far this offseason, any starter has found their names tied to the Marlins one way or another.
But the Marlins have said they have plenty of competition for the back end of their rotation. Miami is instead looking for a top starter, and Saunders doesn’t appear to fit that mold.
You can check out all of the available free agents by position below.