Joe Saunders Rumors
Orioles manager Buck Showalter addressed reporters and appeared on MLB Network Radio today to discuss a few O's-related subjects. Let's round up all things Orioles, courtesy of Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com, MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli, and Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and SiriusXM (all links go to Twitter)....
- Orioles VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette told reporters he hopes to come home with a signed player by the end of the week.
- The Orioles met with Joe Saunders' reps today and had preliminary talks, tweets Connolly.
- The Orioles have interest in free agents Kevin Correia and Nate Schierholtz, and have had meetings with their agents in Nashville, tweets Connolly.
- Showalter spoke to free agent outfielder Nate McLouth earlier today, and GM Dan Duquette is expected to meet with McLouth's agent tonight. McLouth is looking for only a one-year deal, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, so he can re-establish his value and return to the market.
- The Orioles haven't given up on the idea of re-signing Mark Reynolds, who the club non-tendered last week.
- The O's are also hoping to re-sign Omar Quintanilla, another non-tender.
- If other clubs don't value Baltimore's young players as much as the O's do, the club won't make a trade just for the sake of making one, says Showalter.
- Baltimore's payroll will be between $90MM and $100MM next season.
- According to Showalter, MLB's managers were asked whether they were in favor of expanding instant replay, and 29 of 30 voted yes.
1:52pm: Dan Haren's agreement with the Nationals takes another starting pitching option off the board for the Angels, who made an effort to bring back the right-hander after not tendering him a qualifying offer. According to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter), the Angels made a one-year offer to Haren with a very achievable option year.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets that there was at least one other team in on Haren at around $13MM, suggesting that the price tag for free agent starters will be high this offseason. That isn't great news for the Angels, since the team appears to have a finite amount of money to spend on pitching, according to DiGiovanna (Twitter link). If the Angels go big on a starter, they'll have to scrimp on relievers, and vice versa, says DiGiovanna.
Although the Angels have checked in on virtually every free agent starting pitcher, including Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson, Ryan Dempster, and Joe Saunders, Zack Greinke remains their first choice, tweets DiGiovanna.
The Orioles have shown interest in Brett Myers, who plans to pitch as a starter in 2013, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The Twins and Royals are among the other American League teams in on the right-hander. Here's more on the O's..
- General manager Dan Duquette is confident that the team won't need to trade for an outfielder given the amount of options available via free agency, Morosi writes. The team would like to add an outfielder so that Chris Davis could move back to first base or DH.
- Duquette spoke with reporters at the meetings and said that the team still has interest in re-signing Nate McLouth and Joe Saunders, Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun tweets. Duquette added that the club has not had contact with Jim Thome and is not sure if he intends to play next season.
- The O's feel good about their second base options and their priority remains trading for a middle-of-the-order bat, according to Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com (via Twitter).
- Manager Buck Showalter has narrowed the third base coach search down and hopes to have it done by the end of the meetings, Encina tweets.
Several player agents tell Larry Stone of the Seattle Times that the Mariners' chances of attracting free agent hitters have improved now that Safeco Field's fences are being moved in. That said, while the shorter fences will help, "players look at all of those factors, but in the end, it still comes down to where they can get the best contract. And it always will," one agent says.
Here are some items from a very busy day in baseball....
- The Dodgers met with Zack Greinke on Thursday, tweets Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports.
- In an interview with 1500 ESPN Twin Cities radio (via Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN), Twins assistant GM Rob Antony said his team will likely pursue free agents over trades at the Winter Meetings. "We probably don't have a lot of pieces that we do have to trade for starting pitching [with Denard Span now gone]," Antony said. "We'll probably be a little more aggressive and spend our time at the winter meetings talking to agents rather than clubs."
- Russell Martin said the Yankees told him they didn't have the money available to match Pittsburgh's two-year/$17MM offer, reports David Waldstein of the New York Times. The Yankees didn't make Martin an offer and have yet to make any offers to position players this offseason, reports ESPN's Buster Olney (both links are to Twitter).
- The Yankees aren't likely to pursue either A.J. Pierzynski or Mike Napoli, reports Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York.
- The Pirates considered pursuing Napoli but didn't think he could stay healthy and effective as a full-time catcher in the NL, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- The Royals offered Ryan Dempster a two-year, $26MM contract but are no longer bidding on the Canadian right-hander now that his price tag has risen, reports Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. At least six teams besides Kansas City have been connected to Dempster this offseason.
- Also from Dutton, the Royals offered Scott Feldman a one-year, $4.5MM deal before the righty agreed to a one-year, $6MM contract with the Cubs earlier this week.
- MLB.com's John Schlegel lists 10 potential bargain signings on the free agent market.
- The week's minor league transactions are recapped by Matt Eddy of Baseball America.
- Orioles GM Dan Duquette tells MASNsports.com's Mel Antonen (Twitter link) that negotiations with Nate McLouth and Joe Saunders have been a "little slow" to develop.
The Angels could shift their focus away from top free agent starting pitching and pursue relief depth if Zack Greinke’s asking price increases beyond their limit, Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times reports. Adding Japanese right-hander Kyuji Fujikawa to the bullpen might provide the Angels with enough depth to avoid spending on Greinke and other free agents whose asking prices could increase when Greinke signs.
The Angels are one of the top suitors for Greinke, along with the Dodgers, Nationals and Rangers, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio reports (all Twitter links). However, the Angels haven’t made a play on Anibal Sanchez or Kyle Lohse, according to Bowden. The Angels, Rangers, Red Sox and White Sox are among the teams in play for free agent reliever Mike Adams, Bowden reports.
Agents and players have considerably more interest in Baltimore as a potential destination now that the Orioles are viewed as a contender, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports. "It's winning," one agent told Olney. "Period.” Some free agents now list the Orioles as a team they’d like to join. Here are more notes from Olney, starting in Baltimore...
- The Orioles are looking for starting pitching and hope to bring Joe Saunders back. Jeremy Guthrie’s three-year, $25MM contract could affect Saunders’ asking price, as Olney points out.
- While the Orioles have talked about adding a bat, they’re not expected to be particularly aggressive about free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton.
- The Marlins, Indians and Pirates are among the teams that could have trouble luring free agents even if they’re offering competitive salaries.
- One AL GM credits the Red Sox for building a team that plays well in Fenway Park.
- Earlier in the offseason there had been talk that the SoftBank Hawks, the Japanese team that recently agreed to sign Bryan LaHair, could pursue veteran free agents such as Mike Napoli or Kevin Youkilis.
- A number of teams, including the Indians, are scouting left-hander Scott Kazmir, Olney writes. The Astros had some interest in Kazmir during the regular season.
- Olney suggests arbitration eligible players such as Chris Heisey and A.J. Ellis could be candidates for two or three-year extensions this winter.
The Twins have not yet made any moves this offseason, but John Shipley of The Pioneer Press says the team continues to monitor the free agent pitching market. GM Terry Ryan also acknowledged talking to the Marlins prior to their blockbuster with the Blue Jays.
"Anybody who is a starting pitcher that we've identified as having some ability, you can assume we've touched base with them," said Ryan, adding that they were "aware of (the Marlins) feelings" before the blockbuster.
Shipley said the team's list of pitching targets includes Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez, Edwin Jackson, Brandon McCarthy, and Joe Saunders, though some may be more realistic than others. The club has approximately $25MM to work with this winter assuming they'll maintain a similar payroll level next season, and outside of 26-year-old lefty Scott Diamond, no one from Minnesota's 2012 rotation is guaranteed a spot in 2012.
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.