Joe Saunders Rumors
MLBTradeRumors is introducing a new series in which two comparable free agents are analyzed side by side. Each post will conclude with a reader vote on the value of the two players.
Joe Saunders and Joe Blanton have a lot in common. They have both evolved into steady if unspectacular starters since being selected in the first round of the 2002 draft. Both of the 6’3” 31-year-olds were traded in waiver deals this past August. They even share a first name. Let’s move past the similarities and determine which free agent should appeal to teams more in the coming offseason, when both Saunders and Blanton will be eligible for free agency.
Saunders has averaged 175 innings over the course of the past five seasons and, unlike Blanton, hasn't missed significant time due to injuries in recent years. He’s six months younger than Blanton and he’s left-handed. Saunders also has the edge in career ERA (4.15 vs. 4.37). While Saunders has consistently kept his ERA below 4.50, Blanton hasn't posted an ERA below 4.50 since 2009. Let's not forget Saunders' two strong postseason starts against the elite offenses of the Rangers and Yankees this month.
Though Blanton missed much of the 2011 season, he pitched 191 innings this past season, and has completed at least 175 innings in seven of eight full years as an MLB player. He’s been every bit as durable as Saunders. Furthermore, he strikes out more hitters and does a better job at limiting walks. Blanton also throws harder than Saunders (90.4 mph) and generates more swings and misses (9.6% swinging strike rate). The right-hander’s ERA has been a little high in recent years, but once we look a little deeper, we’ll see he has produced more wins above replacement in his career, according to both FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference (Blanton has been worth 20.4 WAR to Saunders' 12.0, per FanGraphs). And though he didn’t pitch in the 2012 playoffs, Blanton has 40 solid postseason innings to his name.
Both pitchers have a case for a multiyear deal this offseason, when many teams will be looking for rotation help. Which begs the question...
The Orioles and Diamondbacks completed the August 26th trade that sent Joe Saunders to Baltimore for Matt Lindstrom, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports (on Twitter). The Orioles sent cash to Arizona to complete the deal when the sides couldn't agree on a player to be named.
The initial trade sent Saunders and cash to Baltimore for Lindstrom and a player to be named later. Saunders posted a 3.63 ERA with 4.6 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 in 44 2/3 regular season innings with Baltimore before pitching well in two postseason contests. The left-hander hits free agency after the World Series and could be a target for Baltimore.
Melky Cabrera missed out on a free agent payday of at least $50MM by testing positive for an elevated amount of testosterone, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. Baseball is focused on improving ways of detecting testosterone and expanding tests for human growth hormone, Rosenthal reports. Here are some highlights from the remainder of his column...
- Dusty Baker might not have much leverage in contract talks with the Reds unless a managerial opening or two emerges, Rosenthal writes. Baker, whose contract expires after the season, earns $4-4.5MM per year and Rosenthal argues he deserves a raise. The Astros will be looking for a manager this offseason and jobs could open up in Boston and Anaheim.
- There’s no talk of the Braves shutting Kris Medlen down, even though he underwent Tommy John surgery at the same time Stephen Strasburg did. The Braves limited Medlen’s innings by starting the season with him in the bullpen.
- The Orioles are able to add payroll, but they didn’t do so in their recent trade with the Diamondbacks. Arizona sent about $300K to Baltimore to account for the difference in the salaries of Matt Lindstrom and Joe Saunders.
- The Orioles put in a claim on Joe Blanton earlier in August, Rosenthal reports. The Dodgers won the claim on the right-hander, who had nearly $3MM on his contract at the time he was placed on waivers.
- Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette told reporters, including Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com, that Saunders has been on his radar for quite a while. "He's a professional left-handed pitcher. We like his experience, which complements our starting rotation, which has three rookies, and I also like the fact that he's left-handed. It gives us better balance," Duquette said.
- Also in Dubroff's piece, Duquette insinuates Saunders may not simply be a late-season rental for the Orioles. "Joe Saunders is a local kid. Maybe he's with us beyond this year. That's something we can take a look at." Saunders was born and raised in Fairfax County, Virginia.
- Being close to family is a big draw for Saunders, according to MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli. "I’m excited to get traded to a playoff contending team," said Saunders. "Plus my family is from there so I’ll get to go closer to home. I grew up an hour and a half south of Baltimore so it’s going to be exciting to hang out with them more and they’ll get a chance to see me pitch more."
- Saunders also took to his personal Twitter feed to thank the Diamondbacks' organization and to say he will miss the team, the fans, and the community.
- Lindstrom met with Baltimore reporters, including the Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly, before leaving to join his new team. “Yeah, [I’m] surprised but also kind of excited. A little bittersweet, because the team here is doing so well."
1:12pm: The player to be named later the Diamondbacks will receive won't be named until after the season and will not be a targeted prospect but a lower-level minor leaguer, tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.
11:09am: The Orioles have acquired Joe Saunders and cash from the Diamondbacks in exchange for reliever Matt Lindstrom and a player to be named later. Saunders cleared trade waivers earlier in the week, making him eligible to be dealt to any club.
Late last night, we learned that Arizona found a trade partner for the 31-year-old and the O's were said to be the club with the most steady interest in him. Saunders will be owed roughly $1.5MM, the prorated portion of his $6MM salary, between now and the end of the year.
The veteran has a 4.22 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 21 starts for the Diamondbacks this year. For his career, Saunders owns a 4.17 ERA with 5.2 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in eight big league seasons for the Angels and Diamondbacks.
Lindstrom, 32, has a 2.72 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 34 appearances this year. The right-hander is earning $3.6MM in 2012 (roughly $748K remaining) with a $4MM club option for next season. Lindstrom's option can be bought out for just $200K. The deal marks the fifth time that Lindstrom has been traded in the last six years.
The O's also announced that Jake Arrieta has been called up from Triple-A.
SUNDAY, 8:34am: The Orioles have shown the most steady interest in Saunders and have been in the mix for him in recent days, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. However, the O's have not been confirmed as the landing spot for the pitcher.
SATURDAY, 10:46pm: The Diamondbacks appear to have found a trade partner for Joe Saunders, reports Bob McManaman of The Arizona Republic (on Twitter). The left-hander may be scratched from Sunday's start. Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic mentions (on Twitter) that the Orioles have been speculated as a possible fit for a while.
Saunders, 31, cleared trade waivers earlier this week and can be dealt to any team. He'll earn $6MM this year -- approximately $1.5MM between now and the end of the season -- and he will hit free agency this fall. He has posted a 4.22 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 130 innings over the course of 21 starts with Arizona in 2012.
With Wade Miley, Ian Kennedy, and Trevor Cahill fronting the rotation plus youngsters like Tyler Skaggs, Patrick Corbin, and Trevor Bauer breaking into the big leagues this summer, the D'Backs appear to have enough starting pitching to move Saunders without hurting their chances of contending.
The Diamondbacks can trade Joe Saunders to any team now that he has cleared waivers, John Gambadoro of 620 KTAR in Phoenix reports (Twitter link via Nick Piecoro). The Diamondbacks placed the left-hander on revocable waivers earlier in the week.
Saunders earns $6MM this year -- approximately $1.5MM between now and the end of the season -- and he will hit free agency this fall. He has posted a 4.22 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 130 innings over the course of 21 starts with Arizona in 2012.
The Diamondbacks appear to have enough starting pitching depth to trade Saunders without compromising their chances of contending. Now that he has cleared waivers they can trade him without concerning themselves with waiver restrictions.
Here are a few links out of the NL and AL West as Tuesday runs into Wednesday ...
- The Diamondbacks have placed left-hander Joe Saunders on trade waivers, a source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. Saunders, whose waiver period expires on Thursday at 12 p.m. CT on Thursday, is owed roughly $1.5MM for the remainder of the season and is slated to become a free agent in the offseason.
- The Athletics have signed catcher Jason Jaramillo to a minor league contract and assigned him to Triple-A Sacramento, according to Casey Pratt of CSNBayArea.com (Twitter link). Jaramillo appeared in the Majors for stints of various lengths with the Pirates from 2009-11. He owns a career big league batting line of .235/.293/.327.
- Among a handful of roster moves Oakland made today was optioning second baseman Jemile Weeks to Triple-A. Weeks burst onto the scene in the second-half of last season but has struggled mightily with the bat this year (.220/.305/.302). However, the A's don't seem to have soured on Weeks overall, as manager Bob Melvin characterized the demotion as a "blip" and said the organization still thinks Weeks has a bright future ahead, according to Pratt (Twitter link).
This is a running list of players who have cleared waivers, based on published reports. Once a player clears waivers, he can be traded to any team (barring a no-trade clause). This list can always be found in the sidebar under MLBTR Features. Player names are linked to the source articles.
Nick Punto, Red Sox - Punto earns $1.5MM this year and will earn the same amount in 2013.
Carl Crawford, Red Sox - Crawford has $102.5MM remaining on his contract after 2012, so he was expected to clear waivers. Crawford can block trades to two clubs, but no team can flip him to the Yankees after acquiring him from Boston.
Alfonso Soriano, Cubs - Soriano can block any trade. He earns $18MM per season through 2014.
Juan Pierre, Phillies - Pierre earns $800K in 2012 and he'll hit free agency after the season.
Joe Mauer, Twins - Mauer earns $23MM per season through 2018.
Joe Saunders, Diamondbacks - Saunders earns $6MM in 2012 and will hit free agency after the season.
Roy Oswalt, Rangers - Oswalt earns $5MM in 2012 and will hit free agency after the season.
Kevin Millwood, Mariners - Millwood earns $1MM in 2012 and will hit free agency after the season.
Carlos Marmol, Cubs - Marmol will earn $9.8MM in 2013 before hitting free agency.
31-year-old innings eater Joe Blanton has about $3MM left on his contract, and the Orioles are his most interested suitor. The latest:
- The Phillies are coming off the $3MM demands, tweets Connolly, and Blanton to the Orioles is picking up steam again.
- The Orioles would have to take on $3MM to acquire Blanton, and they aren't comfortable with that amount, so they're considering other options, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports (all Twitter links). The Mariners want a lot in return for Jason Vargas, Connolly writes. Joe Saunders and Bud Norris are alternatives, but it's not clear whether they're fits for Baltimore. The Orioles don't want to give up much in a trade for starting pitching, Connolly writes.
- The Orioles tried to get Paul Maholm from the Cubs, Ghiroli reports. She confirms the team's interest in Saunders and Vargas. The Orioles are looking on the relief market as well, Ghiroli reports.
- The Orioles are turning their attention back toward other starters, tweets MLB.com's Britt Ghiroli.
- The Orioles were sent medicals on Blanton as well as two Phillies minor leaguers, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com.
- Money continues to be a stumbling block on a Blanton deal, tweets MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. The chances of the deal dying have increased since yesterday.