Joe Saunders Rumors

West Notes: Shields, Rangers, Saunders

James Shields rejected a four-year, $80MM offer from the Giants before signing with the Padres for $5MM less, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes. The Giants rescinded the offer once they re-signed Jake Peavy, however, so by the time Shields actually signed, the Cubs and Marlins were probably the Padres’ top rivals for Shields. Shields’ agent, Page Odle, says his client received more than one offer with a higher average annual value than the one he ultimately accepted from the Padres, confirming that Shields’ desires to play near his home outside San Diego and to for a revamped Padres team were quite strong. Odle implies, though, that another factor might have been that the Giants’ offer simply came too early in the offseason, and that he and Shields wanted more time to make a decision. Odle also says he and Shields did not reject a $110MM offer, as had been reported last month. Here are more notes from the West divisions.

  • The Rangers have three pitchers in Yu Darvish, Yovani Gallardo and Neftali Feliz who look like they could be extension candidates, but the team has no plans to extend any of them during Spring Training, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan writes. “There is nothing in the works right now,” says GM Jon Daniels. Darvish is signed through 2017, but can become a free agent a year earlier if he wins a Cy Young award in one of the next two seasons or finishes between second and fourth in both of them. “Counterintuitively, I’m rooting for him to be able to void that last year,” says Daniels, suggesting that the year lost will be positive if Darvish performs well enough to finish at or near the top in Cy Young balloting in one or both of the next two seasons.
  • Manager Lloyd McClendon says the Mariners will use newly signed lefty Joe Saunders purely as a reliever, MLB.com’s Greg Johns tweets. The 33-year-old Saunders has pitched almost his entire career as a starter, but he made six relief appearances for the Orioles last season.

Mariners, Joe Saunders Agree To Minor League Deal

The Mariners and Joe Saunders have agreed to a minor league contract with an invite to Major League Spring Training, writes MLB.com’s Greg Johns.

Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reported yesterday that the Mariners were interested in a minor league deal with the Legacy Agency client and viewed him as a potential left-handed relief option. As I noted at the time, Saunders has been quietly excellent against lefties over the past two seasons, even if his overall numbers are undeniably troublesome. Though Saunders pitched to a 5.26 ERA over 183 innings with the 2013 Mariners and a 6.70 ERA in 43 innings for the Rangers and Orioles last year, he’s held opposing left-handed hitters to a paltry .230/.270/.308 batting line in that time.

The Mariners have a definite hole in the bullpen with the departure of Joe Beimel, who worked to a 2.20 ERA in 45 innings (56 appearances) as a lefty specialist last year. GM Jack Zduriencik recently told reporters that he spoke to Beimel’s camp and the two sides simply weren’t able to come to an agreement. That’s hardly surprising, given the fact that Dutton tweeted last night that Beimel is looking for a multi-year deal coming off his solid season.

In his 10-year big league career, Saunders has worked almost exclusively as a starter. However, he’s also held lefties to a .241/.288/.329 batting line. If he does make the Mariners’ bullpen and enjoy a solid season as a left-handed relief option, he could enjoy a career renaissance similar to that of Oliver Perez, who, interestingly enough, also established himself as a reliever in Seattle.

As Johns notes, Saunders could be competing with Lucas Luetge, Mike Kickham, Rule 5 pick David Rollins and non-roster invitee Rafael Perez for a spot as a second lefty in the bullpen. Charlie Furbush will be the team’s top left-handed option once again in 2015.


Mariners Interested In Minor League Deal For Joe Saunders

The Mariners are showing interest in a reunion with left-hander Joe Saunders, if he is willing to accept a bullpen role, reports Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Seattle would be interested in using Saunders in a relief capacity rather than as rotation depth, Dutton adds.

Saunders, 33, struggled to a 5.26 ERA with the 2013 Mariners, although he did soak up 183 innings for the team that season. Those struggles continued with the Rangers and Orioles in 2014, when Saunders posted an alarming 6.70 ERA in 43 innings of work.

However, for all of those struggles, Saunders has been quietly excellent against left-handed hitters. Over 2013-14 — the two worst seasons of Saunders’ 10-year big league career, lefties have produced a middling .230/.270/.308 batting line. Those marks are a slight improvement over his also-strong career numbers against lefties — a .241/.288/.329 batting line.

Charlie Furbush figures to be Seattle’s primary left-handed option in the bullpen, but the team is still on the lookout to replace the innings given to the club by Joe Beimel in 2014. Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik told 710 ESPN earlier this week that the team tried to strike up a new deal with Beimel, who posted a 2.20 ERA in 45 innings as a lefty specialist last year, but no agreement could be reached. If Saunders is amenable to a minor league deal and a bullpen role as a means of revitalizing his career, he could be a reasonable option to replace some of the strong work that Beimel did last year.



Free Agent Notes: Saunders, Soto, Billingsley

Left-hander Joe Saunders has switched agents and is now being represented by The Legacy Agency, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter link).  Saunders had previously been a Legacy client prior to the 2014 season, when he made the change to Craig Landis of LSW Baseball.  Be sure to check out the MLB Trade Rumors Agency Database for agency info on over 1,700 players.  Agents: if you’ve got a 40-man roster player or top prospect whose representation is not correctly noted, we welcome corrections at mlbtrdatabase@gmail.com.

Here’s some more about other veteran free agents on the hunt for their next team…

  • Catcher Geovany Soto is talking to four teams, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.  This number represents a slight narrowing of Soto’s field, as we heard last month that five or six teams were in the mix for his services, including the Rangers, one of his former clubs.
  • Right-hander Chad Billingsley has received multiple offers, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter).  Billingsley has only pitched 12 innings in the majors since the start of the 2013 season due to a number of elbow injuries, plus a recovery from Tommy John surgery.  The Diamondbacks had expressed interest in Billingsley earlier this offseason, which is no surprise given that Arizona GM Dave Stewart is Billingsley’s former agent.
  • Mark Ellis‘ agent Jamie Murphy tells Crasnick (Twitter link) that his client looks to play next season if the right situation emerges.  Ellis, 37, suffered through a tough 2014 campaign with the Cardinals that included a pair of DL stints and a .180/.253/.213 slash line over 202 plate appearances.

Minor Moves: Hill, Gwynn, Berry, Rangers, Reds

Here are today’s minor transactions from around baseball, with the most recent moves at the top of the post…

  • Lefty Rich Hill has been outrighted to Triple-A by the Yankees, according to the International League transactions page. Hill was designated to make room for fellow southpaw Josh Outman. Though he has seen little time at the MLB level this year and posted an unsightly 6.28 ERA last year, the 34-year-old has historically been quite tough on same-handed hitters and could make sense as an extra lefty specialist on an expanded roster. Having previously been outrighted, Hill will have the right to elect free agency.
  • The Phillies announce that they have selected the contract of outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. To make room on their 40-man roster, they transferred Cliff Lee to the 60-day DL. The Phillies outrighted and then released Gwynn earlier this summer, only to re-sign him to a minor league deal. He’s a career .239/.310/.311 hitter in parts of eight big-league seasons.
  • The Orioles will select the contract of outfielder Quintin Berry, Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com tweets. Berry had a good season for Triple-A Norfolk, hitting .285/.382/.367 in 432 plate appearances, and did his usual good job on the bases, stealing 25 of them while being caught six times. In his brief big-league career with the Tigers and Red Sox, Berry has stolen 24 bases without being caught, making him an ideal September promotion candidate for a team seeking speed.
  • The Rangers have announced that they will select the contract of lefty Michael Kirkman as a September call-up tomorrow. Also, they will select the contract of fellow pitcher Spencer Patton on Thursday. Kirkman has posted a 4.47 ERA with 10.3 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9 while pitching 54 1/3 innings of relief this season at Triple-A Round Rock. The Royals outrighted him in April. Patton has posted a combined 3.90 ERA with 12.3 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 62 1/3 innings with Round Rock and the Royals’ Triple-A affiliate in Omaha. The Rangers acquired him for reliever Jason Frasor in July.
  • The Reds have selected the contracts of outfielder Jason Bourgeois and lefty Ryan Dennick, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon writes. They have also cleared one spot on their roster by transferring Homer Bailey to the 60-day DL. The veteran Bourgeois hit .278/.329/.364 in 595 plate appearances this season for Triple-A Louisville. Also at Louisville, the 27-year-old Dennick posted a 2.36 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 49 2/3 innings of relief.
  • The Giants will select the contract of pitcher Brett Bochy, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. Bochy, the son of Giants manager Bruce Bochy, has had a solid season in the bullpen at Triple-A Fresno, posting a 3.57 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 53 innings. The 27-year-old was a 20th-round draft pick out of the University of Kansas in 2010.
  • The Rockies have selected the contract of infielder Rafael Ynoa, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Ynoa, 27, played for eight years in the Dodgers organization before signing with the Rockies last winter. This season, he posted a .297/.356/.419 line in 473 plate appearances at Triple-A Colorado Springs, playing shortstop, second base and third base.
  • The Athletics have selected the contract of catcher Bryan Anderson, according to the Pacific Coast League transactions page. The A’s acquired Anderson in a minor trade with the Reds late last month, apparently in a bid to acquire more catching depth due to John Jaso‘s injury. The 27-year-old Anderson hit .320/.397/.538 in 293 plate appearances in the minors in 2014. He’s played briefly at the big-league level with the Cardinals and White Sox.
  • The Blue Jays have outrighted reliever Sergio Santos to Double-A New Hampshire, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Last week, the Jays designated Santos for assignment for the second time this year. He’s posted an 8.57 ERA in 21 innings with the big club, striking out 29 batters but walking 18.
  • The Padres have selected the contracts of pitcher Leonel Campos and 2B/3B/OF Cory Spangenberg and moved Carlos Quentin and Yonder Alonso to the 60-day DL, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets. Campos has posted a 6.34 ERA with 5.6 BB/9 in a season split between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A El Paso, but with 11.8 K/9. He can start or relieve. We noted earlier this week that the Padres appeared likely to promote Spangenberg, a former first-round draft pick.
  • The Orioles purchased the contract of left-hander Joe Saunders, the team announced.  Saunders signed a minor league deal with the O’s last month and posted a 1.50 ERA in 12 relief innings for Triple-A Norfolk.  The veteran southpaw has never pitched out of the bullpen in the majors but the Orioles intend to use him as a reliever down the stretch.  Buck Showalter told reporters (including MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli) that Saunders could also make a spot start when the O’s face the Yankees in a double-header on September 12.
  • The Twins will purchase the contracts of utilityman Doug Bernier and right-handers Lester Oliveros and A.J. Achter prior to Tuesday’s game, Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.  The trio are three of eight players Minnesota is adding to its expanded September roster.
  • Rays catcher Ali Solis has accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (via Twitter).  Solis was outrighted yesterday to create a spot on the Rays’ 40-man roster for right-hander Steve Geltz, who will be promoted today.
  • The Brewers purchased the contract of catcher Matt Pagnozzi, the team announced.  Jeff Bianchi was shifted to the 60-day DL in a corresponding move.  Pagnozzi has 105 career PA since 2009 with the Cardinals, Rockies, Pirates and Astros and he’s also spent time with the Braves’ and Indians’ Triple-A affiliates over the last two seasons.  Pagnozzi has a career .219/.297/.318 slash line over 3026 career PA in the minors.
  • The Angels selected the contract of shortstop Shawn O’Malley, according to Tim Mead, the team’s VP of communications (Twitter link).  O’Malley will join the Halos on Tuesday and add some versatility to the bench; he has mostly played short over his pro career but has played all over the diamond this season.  Originally a fifth-round pick of the Rays in the 2006 draft, O’Malley is looking to make his Major League debut after nine years in the minors, hitting .258/.351/.338 over 2982 PA.

Orioles Sign Joe Saunders To Minors Deal

The Orioles have signed veteran left-hander Joe Saunders to a minor league contract, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports (Twitter link).

Saunders joins his third organization of the season after being released by the Royals and Rangers within the last month.  The southpaw posted a 6.13 ERA in 39 2/3 innings with Texas earlier this year and also struggled in four starts with Kansas City’s Triple-A affiliate.

This is Saunders’ second stint in Baltimore, as he was first acquired by the O’s in late August 2012.  He was a key part of the Orioles’ playoff push that year, posting a 3.63 ERA over seven regular season starts and then a 1.59 ERA over two postseason starts, earning the win in the Orioles’ wild card game victory over the Rangers.  Baltimore had some interest in Saunders during the offseason and, according to Connolly, are looking at Saunders as a possible long relief option out of the bullpen.


Minor Moves: Joe Saunders, George Kottaras, Matt Guerrier

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • Lefty Joe Saunders has been released, the Royals announced on Twitter. Saunders opted out of his minor league deal, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (Twitter link). The 33-year-old lefty will presumably now look for his fourth organization of the year.
  • The Cardinals have released catcher George Kottaras after designating him for assignment to create room for the addition of A.J. Pierzynski, reports Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com (via Twitter). Kottaras, 31, saw just six plate appearances for the Cardinals but owns a .269/.375/.615 slash on the year through just 33 plate appearances.
  • Twins reliever Matt Guerrier has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A, but will elect free agency rather than accepting the assignment, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Guerrier could hold appeal to contenders as a depth piece, particularly on a minor league deal. The veteran righty has produced a solid 3.86 ERA in 28 innings, but has struck out just 3.9 batters per nine.

Royals Sign Joe Saunders

The Royals announced that they have signed left-hander Joe Saunders to a minor league deal and assigned him to Triple-A Omaha.

The 33-year-old Saunders made eight starts for the Rangers this season, pitching to a 6.13 ERA with 22 strikeouts against 20 walks in 39 2/3 innings of work. He was a consistent, if unspectacular, innings-eater from 2007-12 with the Angels, Diamondbacks and Orioles, but Saunders has struggled greatly in his past two Major League stints. From 2013-14, he owns a 5.42 ERA in 222 2/3 innings between the Mariners and Angels.


Rangers Release Joe Saunders

The Rangers have put Joe Saunders on release waivers with the intent of giving the left-hander his unconditional release, the team announced.  Saunders was designated for assignment on Tuesday.  In corresponding moves, righty Ben Rowen was optioned to Triple-A and Neftali Feliz was promoted from Triple-A as the former Rangers closer returns to the majors after missing much of the last two seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Saunders signed a Major League deal with Texas in March that ended up netting him a guaranteed $1.5MM since he made the Rangers’ 25-man roster.  The veteran southpaw ended up making eight starts for the Rangers and struggled to the tune of a 6.13 ERA and nearly as many walks (20) as strikeouts (22) over 39 2/3 innings of work.


Rangers Designate Joe Saunders For Assignment

The Rangers have designated lefty Joe Saunders for assignment, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Righty Miles Mikolas will be called up to start tomorrow for Texas.

Saunders, 33, owns a 6.13 ERA through 39 2/3 innings after a tough outing last night against the Orioles — the club with whom he last found sustained success. The veteran has struck out just 5.0 batters per nine while maintaining a troubling career-worst 4.54 BB/9. Those peripherals do not leave much room for putting a positive spin on his struggles; Saunders owns a 6.20 FIP, 5.16 xFIP, and 5.21 SIERA.