Non-Tender Candidate: Joe Saunders

Diamondbacks lefty Joe Saunders is a non-tender candidate, based on comments GM Kevin Towers made to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.  Towers explained his thought process toward the 30-year-old:

"He certainly logs innings, which is good. A veteran with experience. A good guy. Fits in well with our club. We like him. A deciding factor will be how much confidence do we have with the younger players in our system."

Every rotation needs innings guys, and this year Saunders tallied 215 including a playoff start.  Throw in a 3.69 ERA and how could the D'Backs be thinking about cutting Saunders for no return?  

First there's the price tag, which we project at a hefty $8.7MM.  That'd represent a $3.2MM raise as Saunders enters his last season before free agency.  Then there's that ERA, which doesn't seem representative of Saunders' skills.  His SIERAs have consistently been in the 4.70 range.  Saunders is a hittable, low-strikeout pitcher who can be prone to the longball.  Finally there's Arizona's depth; they might have young starters who can provide similar performance for the league minimum, if not the innings.

Trading or non-tendering Saunders would greatly add to the D'Backs' payroll flexibility, though they don't have huge needs.  Would at least one team feel that Saunders is worth $8-9MM on a one-year deal, and also give up a minor leaguer for him?  I find it unlikely.  Saunders is similar to a healthy Jon Garland, and the open market repeatedly valued Garland close to $5MM.  Only four free agents reached 200 innings this year, and C.C. Sabathia, C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle, and Hiroki Kuroda will either be expensive or picky about where they sign.  However, innings alone don't get a free agent an $8MM+ payday, as we saw with Garland and Rodrigo Lopez last year.  Let's hear your thoughts on Saunders in the poll below.



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