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.