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.


45 Responses to Non-Tender Candidate: Joe Saunders Leave a Reply

  1. chico65 4 years ago

    Saunders is only 30?  Feels like he’s been around forever.

  2. Guest 4 years ago

    Yeah I don’t see the DBacks tendering a contract and then trading him. An opposing team likely won’t see value in giving up a prospect in addition to taking on $8mm-$9mm salary for this guy. He’ll get a contract elsewhere, as there will be probably 1/2 teams in the NL alone looking for an experienced inning eater, but probably for no more than 1 year,  $4mm-$5mm, as you stated. 

    My real issue with this post is:

    “Only four free agents reached 200 innings this year, and C.C. Sabathia, C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle, and Hiroki Kuroda”

    Your immediate inclusion of CC in the free agent pool. While its viewed by many that he will opt out and perhaps rightfully so, he is still under contract and there is that slim chance that he does nothing at all and proceeds with things as they are currently structured. I get it, I understand why he would opt out, why people think he should, but technically he is under contract and it’s a bit premature to immediately include his name in any free agent pool. Never had an issue with the information you’ve provided us these years, so I was a little surprised as to how you wrote that line.

    • Christopher Soto 4 years ago

      Agreed. If CC is on the market then Buerhle, Kuroda, and potentially Saunders and Pelfrey will receive less as the team in “2nd place” for bidding will pick up CJ Wilson. If he’s not on the market one of these guys is gonna get really lucky thanks to Wilson’s demands for a $100M contract…. My money is on Buerhle.

    • 0bsessions 4 years ago

      “Your immediate inclusion of CC in the free agent pool.”

      He’s been included in the likely free agent pool by pretty much every writer on this site all season. Even he and his agent have been strongly hinting at the very high likelihood all season.

      Sabathia hitting the market is bordering on a foregone conclusion at this point. Sure, he may re-up with the Yanks ahead of time, but considering his agent knows how thing the free agent pool is, he’s best off negotiating with them to get an idea of where they’re willing to go to keep him and seeing if anyone is willing to top it.

      It’s not jumping the gun, it’s being realistic. Theo Epstein is still under contract, but I haven’t seen you complaining about articles talking about personnel he plans on getting for the Cubs.

      • Guest 4 years ago

        Man, come on. Your posts are generally pretty good, but you’ve been all over the place the last few days. Look, we all get it with CC. Sure, but he is under contract and that’s currently fact. We can speculate all we want, but it shouldn’t be a foregone conclusion. More so, I’m seeing this pattern the last few days where commenters are making comparisons with Theo Epsteins situation and that of players, managers, etc. It’s almost like some weird justification of these debates. Neither have anything to do with the other.

        • While technically not a “MLB Free Agent” he really is a free agent.  He is only under contract next year if he wants to be and can sign with any team.  You can’t get more free than that.

          • Guest 4 years ago

            Uh huh. What? 

          • 0bsessions 4 years ago

            *Woosh*

          • John DiRienzo 4 years ago

            he’s not technically, by the MLB’s standards, a free agent. because he’s under contract.

            but the idea of a free agent is someone who can sign with any team he wants in the offseason. and that’s exactly what CC is. he’s a free agent. consider the remaining 4 years/$92 mil on his deal as an offer from a team. he can take it or leave it if he wants; he’s not bound to that contract in any way like he would be without the opt out clause. just like every other free agent, he is 100% in charge of where he goes this offseason.

            so while he’s not a free agent by the MLB book, he’s a free agent. not too difficult to understand.

          • Guest 4 years ago

            He signed a 7 year contract for $161mm (that’s the fact in here) with an addendum that he can opt out after the third year if he is unhappy or uncomfortable in New York. While the opt out provides value to CC in obtaining more money, he and the Yankee’s both know that wasn’t what it was intended for. I think a lot of people are losing sight of this. Sure it’s a business and it’s evident that CC is very happy in New York and his wife has equally stated her desire to stay. Everyone is completely losing sight of why the opt out clause was originally extended to CC. It’s the media making this about money, which is why I happen to believe that this will be resolved internally very quickly with a year tacked on and marginal increase in his salary.

          • thegrayrace 4 years ago

            Oh, it is only an “unhappy or uncomfortable” clause? That changes everything.

            … actually, it doesn’t change anything. He can opt out for whatever reason he wants, including more money. The Yankees, Sabathia, and his agent all knew this when they signed the contract.

          • John DiRienzo 4 years ago

            fair points, but they do not change the 100% fact that CC has 100% chance to choose where he goes in the offseason. again, while not technically a free agent by MLB’s standards since he has not exercised that opt out option, he is as much as a free agent as anyone else.

            is it an argument of semantics? yes. but i’m just attempting to point out that by every standard outside of his official contract status, CC is a free agent. and honestly, i feel as though we agree on almost every point regarding the opt-out clause itself.

          • Guest 4 years ago

            Further, if CC does opt out and decides to ride this out and fields bids from competing teams for 6 or 7 years, which he has every right to do, that would potentially send a very poor message to Yankee management and could fracture what is perceived as an outstanding working relationship. It’s a dangerous game of roulette for CC if he does that and if he backs the Yanks in to a corner where they need to pony up 6-7 years and another $150mm-$160mm. I believe the Yanks should walk if that is the case. While that would brutally painful for them, I’m willing to take a mulligan for a season and wait until the 2012 free agent class. But again, CC is very smart and a very VERY loyal and good guy. I don’t see any of this playing out. It’s really a non event that commentators and fans are desperately trying create drama from.

          • crashcameron 4 years ago

            wow. talk about Obsessions. you are manic-obsessive. 

            and … as far as “sending a very poor message to Yankee management” let’s begin a discussion about all the levels of hilarious that statement is

          • GeoKaplan 4 years ago

            “It’s a dangerous game of roulette for CC if he does that and if he backs the Yanks in to a corner where they need to pony up 6-7 years and another $150mm-$160mm. I believe the Yanks should walk if that is the case. While that would brutally painful for them, I’m willing to take a mulligan for a season and wait until the 2012 free agent class.”
            “I don’t see any of this playing out. It’s really a non event that commentators and fans are desperately trying create drama from.”

            We can pause here and wait for the irony to sink into your skull.

            I don’t understand your strange obsession over Sabathia and the fact he has a contractual right to void the remainder of his current contract and declare himself a free agent. 

            True, he is not a free agent in the classic sense, but a person analyzing the free agent market would be an idiot not to include the quite possible event of Sabathia hitting the free agent pitcher market this Winter. His reasons to do so would be only HIS reasons (that is, this is not purely a “I’m not happy in NY clause” as you stated), and he could well decide that a change in venue would be beneficial. He is a West Coast guy, and a big offer from the Angels or Giants might be welcome; he and his agent would need to decide if that is worth the risk of walking away from a ton of guaranteed money.

        • 0bsessions 4 years ago

          The basics of your argument can be summarized: “yes, you’re right, but wah wah anyway,” yet you’re implying I’m the one being unreasonable?

          You are officially the world’s greatest troll.

          • Guest 4 years ago

            I don’t believe I said you’re right and if anything, there was a partial compliment mixed in my response. If you read both posts, I’m not the one crying. The accountability of commenters on here sucks. It is somewhat interesting that when anyone makes a relevant point, there is an immediate response from someone who deviates from the discussion making character accusations. Pretty cool I guess. 

          • 0bsessions 4 years ago

            “I don’t believe I said you’re right and if anything, there was a partial compliment mixed in my response.”

            ” Sure, but he is under contract and that’s currently fact. We can speculate all we want, but it shouldn’t be a foregone conclusion.”

            You basically admitted that we all know he’s almost certainly going to opt out while continuing on to say that while it’s what’s going on, you don’t think it should be considered a foregone conclusion even though it essentially is.

            “The accountability of commenters on here sucks.”

            Yeah, it does. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you cop to your frequent inconsistency in argument.

            ” If you read both posts, I’m not the one crying.”

            I beg to differ: “My real issue with this post is:

            “Only four free agents reached 200 innings this year, and C.C. Sabathia, C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle, and Hiroki Kuroda”

            Your immediate inclusion of CC in the free agent pool”

            “It is somewhat interesting that when anyone makes a relevant point, there is an immediate response from someone who deviates from the discussion making character accusations.”

            In fairness, you were picking at a little miniscule sentence and deviating from the real point of the article, that being whether Joe Saunders would be tendered a contract. So yeah, what was the relevant point you were making?

          • Guest 4 years ago

            Brain explodes. 

            Go take a walk dude and get some fresh air. 

          • John DiRienzo 4 years ago

            interesting. this post sure seems like an underhanded character attack.

            what’s the point of it? to discuss CC’s option? nope, no mention there. Joe Saunders? no mention there. just deviating further from the topic by insinuating that 0bsessions is too angry and worked up to continue a rational discussion. hardly seems constructive considering your prior post.

            don’t get upset with me either. i just like to point out glaring inconsistencies or double standards in peoples’ argument, and i would expect the same

          • Guest 4 years ago

            It’s a good thing you disregarded the entire conversation and only saw what appeared in my last comment. If you had read the entire discussion you would notice that I did in fact make comments both about Saunders and CC and their respective situations and as the original poster, only to be attacked by this guy. What is with people on here that only read what they want. You don’t need to apologize or admit what I am saying is correct. 

          • John DiRienzo 4 years ago

            it’s a good thing you don’t read period and that you just skim other posts for some key words before funneling them through your bias and arrogance. i clearly said “this post” in my response, and if i meant your original post (which was not all that off-topic, IMO), i would have responded to that one.

            from what i read IN HIS MOST RECENT POST, 0bsessions was not attacking you. calling you a troll? yes, that was a jab. but not his most recent post, the one to which you were replying when i replied to you.

            in that one post, when confronted with a rational argument and no jabs this time, you did exactly what you were complaining about.

            you don’t have to “apologize” or “admit” that you were incorrect. i was just pointing out the inconsistency of one post. i await your backpedaling.

          • Guest 4 years ago

            Seriously man, why bother. I’m here to talk baseball and there are several of you that make it your job, as you so aptly stated “to point out glaring inconsistencies or double standards in peoples’ argument, and i would expect the same” 

            If you want to challenge me on something, challenge me on baseball facts. Not to jump on the bandwagon with a select few. You’ve added nothing constructive to any conversation that I’ve been involved in since I’ve noticed your screen name. You’ve disagreed with every single thing I’ve said. It’s a few people and now you. Think about that for a moment, buddy.

          • John DiRienzo 4 years ago

            i apologize if my opinions offend you. aside from a certain Cubs fan, i actually do care about how my posts make the other posters here feel.

            i think we clash more often than not because i feel as though you are blatantly biased in your thinking. in my opinion, if anything is even 1% related to the Red Sox or anything that was formerly the Red Sox, your brain immediately reaches a conclusion and then completely backpedals and adapts your argument around that predetermined opinion. because of these, i notice (what i feel are) inconsistencies in your posts, so i attack them.

            i just think we have more opportunities to disagree. again, i’m not trying to bust your balls. i point out inconsistencies with everyone, even the other Sox posters. and frankly, nothing better than a spirited debate between a Boston native and a NY native. i apologize again if they get too heated. carry on good sir

  3. Christopher Soto 4 years ago

    “hittable, low strikeout pitcher who can be prone to the longball”

    Sounds like Mike Pelfrey for the Mets. 200 innings a year guy but not all of them quality innings. Granted Saunders performed a lot better then Pelf who was flat out terrible this year.
    Cant believe MLB 2012: The show originally had him as “A” potential pitcher lol

  4. 0bsessions 4 years ago

    “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.”

    I’m in complete disagreement on this point. If they’re that wary of the price tag, tender him a contract and shop him. Yeah, he’s a mediocre pitcher when it comes down to it, but both the Yankees and Red Sox are in dire need of a reliable innings eater at the back of their rotations. If they non-tender him, one of them will pounce within about ten minutes. I sincerely doubt the price tag on one year will be prohibitive to either team. Worst case scenario I can envision is that they ship him out to another team willing to take on his salary, best case scenario is that someone overpays for him due to the absolutely barren pitching market and they come away with a decent prospect. True, they’re not going to get a top prospect, but at the least another team will be willing to eat his salary and give up someone with a reliever/bench player ceiling, which is more than you get if you non-tender him.

    From a Sox fan perspective, I’d be more than willing to give up a guy with potential whose stock has fallen (Say a Lars Anderson, nothing special, but he’s got some upside) while taking on his bloated salary. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing.

  5. Kenneth Lichtig 4 years ago

    Yankees need pitching     Saunders and Garland might be what the Steinbrenner’s are looking for.  Hey, last year they signed Bartolo Colon

  6. Starting pitchers are valuable.  Every team wants them.   Saunders has a knack for getting wins despite putting men on base, and his skill set would play well in a larger ball park like Seattle or Detroit, two places that could use a lefty starter in their rotations and have some cash to spend.  

    • Christopher Soto 4 years ago

      +1 for the Seattle mention….I like it. 

      • Guest 4 years ago

        I could see Seattle being a fit Saunders now that’s it mentioned. Even the Met’s, however with the addition on Wheeler and Santana returning soon, maybe not. Actually, not for this thread but MLBTR should maybe do a write up on Santana. He’s almost like the forgotten name these last 2 years. Former ace just around the corner from returning. Hmmm. Wonder if Santana could be moved somewhere if his progress continues to be good this winter. 

        • Christopher Soto 4 years ago

          Wheeler wont be a factor till 2014 at the earliest…..As for Saunders for Mets, its highly unlikely since he projects as the same type of pitcher as Pelfrey (hittable, low strikeouts, longball prone) and they are bringing the fences in to be more neutral towards pitchers and hitters.

          The best way to predict Santana’s possible performance would be to look at Chien Ming Wang. Wang had a similar surgery (although not exact from my understanding) and required 2 years to finally put everything back together to become an average pitcher for the Nats. 

          Asking Santana to be an ace once he comes back is a huge demand. He’ll probably require an additional 2 months to return to form once the season starts. Plus he historically starts slow in the cold months. Look for Carrasco (long reliever) to log quite a few innings in the first month of next season.

          • Guest 4 years ago

            Some great points with the comparison btw Pelfrey and Saunders. I completely neglected to consider that. I’m very interested to see what progress has been made with Santana. No one should expect him to return to “ace” form, but he could become a very interesting and talked about name in the next 6-18 months, optimistically speaking. 

          • Christopher Soto 4 years ago

            Last I checked he pitched in one or two Single A Savannah Sand Gnats playoff games and did “ok” granted he is still a long ways away. Here’s a link to a story courtesy of Metsminorleagueblog.com of his last start for Savannah and then another story on his reflection.

            link to metsminorleagueblog.com

            link to metsminorleagueblog.com

          • 0bsessions 4 years ago

            “The best way to predict Santana’s possible performance would be to look at Chien Ming Wang. Wang had a similar surgery (although not exact from my understanding) and required 2 years to finally put everything back together to become an average pitcher for the Nats. ”

            I’d call this not applicable. Wang was always a middle of the rotation starter (Yes, he was a MOR starter, if one person comes here and cites wins to me, I’m gonna scream) who relied on location and contact. He was a ground ball pitcher who didn’t have overpowering stuff, but focused on getting outs by keeping the ball down.

            Santana was a strikeout pitcher with blow you away stuff. Frankly speaking, he’s not as likely to bounce back as Wang because Wang didn’t have as far to bounce. Santana COULD bounce back, but it’s likely he may have to reinvent himself to do so. With Wang’s skill set, it’s simply easier for him to get back to a respectable level without having to change his approach than it will be for Santana.

          • Christopher Soto 4 years ago

            Santana was slowly shying away from his dominant strikeout performances before the injury occured. His K/9 inning ratio was down and his H/9 ratio was slowly creeping up while his BB/9 ratio stayed relatively flat.

            Yes its not a perfect match or even a good one but the surgery these two guys had is very uncommon in a pitcher. I think the only other guy to have it was Mark Prior and we all know how he turned out. 

            So yea it can be either a good recovery and he becomes a #2 starter tops or he can try to go out there and pitch and blow his elbow out in April thus ending his Career…..all i know is that Alderson is going to have to play a very risky hand with him next year.

        • Christopher Soto 4 years ago

          As for moving Santana, most likely not unless he really boosts his value by the trade deadline like Beltran did.

          As a side note….that Beltran deal was a STEAL on Alderson’s part. Kudos to him.

          • Guest 4 years ago

            He did a really nice job in that Beltran deal, same for K-Rod. I think Santana has two years at $20mm per remaining?

          • Christopher Soto 4 years ago

            Santana has 2 yrs left at $24M (’12) and $25.5M (’13) plus a club option for 2014 for $25M or a $5.5M buyout.

            The option becomes a player option if 
            A) wins a Cy Young AND places 2nd or 3rd in another season between ’08-’13
            b) is 2nd or 3rd in Cy Young voting on 3 occasions between ’08-’13
            c) is on the active roster for the last 30 days of the 2013 season plus pitches 215 innings or 420 innings in ’12 and ’13 combined.

            *Source: Cots Baseball Contracts*

    • 0bsessions 4 years ago

      Precisely. This guy would be a valuable piece to a whole slew of teams. Sure, he’s not a great pitcher and small market teams wouldn’t want anything to do with him, but the big spenders would be all over Saunders if the prospect cost was low and a low prospect return is better than no prospect return. I can’t see any good reason for the Diamondbacks not to tender him a contract and start shopping him. Maybe they can get a low minors guy with decent upside, but at worst they can probably just find someone to take his contract for nothing.

      • daveineg 4 years ago

        It depends on the small market team and what they already have.  Towers is probably considering locking up Kennedy and Hudson in the next couple years.  Small market teams in general should try and avoid paying large sums to back end or even mid rotation guys but a team that had two young pre arby guys at the front that lacks depth might consider it worth getting a Saunders for one year even at an inflated rate.

        As a Brewer fan, I’ve often faulted Doug Melvin for hanging on to guys like Dave Bush in arbitration and for signing veteran FA at a premium as 4th and 5th starters.  If Towers doesn’t think Saunders would get $8.7 million in the open market, then he’d be wise to let him go and either sign him for less, or use that amount to get a guy who is worth it.

  7. NathanielS 4 years ago

    I am scared to post when Tim Dierkes is the author after my (deserved) trauma yesterday.

    Saunders would do great at the back-end of nearly all teams. Wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up with the Dodgers.

  8. I would have some faith in Towers. The man got Gregorson for Khalil Greene after all

  9. garylanglais 4 years ago

    By late August this was the Mobile Baybears (DBacks AA) rotation: Tyler Skaggs, Trevor Bauer, Jarrod Parker, Patrick Corbin.

    I think its the end of the road for Saunders.

    • Kevin C 4 years ago

      Don’t forget about Charles Brewer. He doesn’t get the recognition he deserves, the guy hasn’t had an ERA over 3.00 in the minors yet.

  10. cookmeister 4 years ago

    Wouldn’t surprise me if the Angels were interested in bring Saunders back.  Fairly reliable starter that is familiar with the organization, and the Angels need a lefty starter IMO.  From everything I have read there really isn’t any bad blood between the Angels and Saunders after he was traded.  Just comes down to price and if he has better opportunities elsewhere

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