Mariners Agree To Terms With Joe Saunders

FRIDAY, 5:30pm: Saunders' deal includes a mutual option for 2014 and is worth $6.5MM with an additional $1MM in incentives in year one, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).  

2:21pm: Saunders will obtain about $7MM from the Mariners, Jon Heyman of reports (on Twitter). The agreement also includes incentives.

THURSDAY: The Mariners have agreed to a one-year deal with free agent left-hander Joe Saunders, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link).  The contract will become official once Saunders passes a physical.  Saunders is represented by Greg Genske.

Several teams (including the Orioles, Padres, Mets, Pirates and Twins) were interested in Saunders this winter, though the veteran southpaw couldn't find his desired three-year deal.  Minnesota offered Saunders a one-year contract and he also reportedly had a two-year, $15MM offer on the table from a mystery team.  The short commitment will allow Saunders to build value at pitcher-friendly Safeco Field and look for a multiyear deal again next winter.

Saunders, 31, posted a 4.07 ERA, a 5.8 K/9, a 2.0 BB/9 and a 43.1% ground ball rate in 28 starts with the Diamondbacks and Orioles in 2012.  Fangraphs' Dave Cameron points out that Saunders' numbers over the last three seasons are very similar to those of left-hander Jason Vargas, who the M's traded to the Angels for Kendrys Morales.  Saunders projects as the No. 3 starter in Seattle's rotation, behind Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma.

MLBTR's Tim Dierkes had Saunders ranked 25th on his list of the top 50 free agents of the 2012-13 offseason.  Presuming Saunders passes his physical, that would leave just three of those 50 players unsigned — Michael Bourn (ranked third), Kyle Lohse (10th) and Jose Valverde (44th).

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