|Mariners close to adding Saunders|
by Rick Randall of SeattleClubhouse.com, February 7, 2013 at 11:08 pm ET
Joe Saunders Profile
As has been widely reported, first by FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal on Twitter, the Mariners are close to signing free agent left-handed pitcher Joe Saunders to what is being called a one-year contract for the 2013 season.
Saunders, who pitched last year for the Diamondbacks and Orioles -- with whom he made two very strong postseason starts -- had reportedly been talking to a number of teams this off-season. He was reportedly seeking a three-year deal but it has been rumored that he didn't receive anything better than a two-year offer thus far. Regardless, his signing with Seattle on a (reported) one-year pact is a big win for the Mariners, and perhaps a sign that their profile among the free agent market is starting to turn around.
Saunders figures to join the rotation behind right-handers Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, essentially replacing left-hander Jason Vargas, whom Seattle traded to the Angels for designated hitter Kendrys Morales right before the Holidays. The two lefties have actually been very similar over the course of the past three seasons, posting very like rates in several advanced statistical pitching categories. While the two have both struggled with the home run in their careers, two areas where Saunders bests Vargas is in ground ball rate (45.2% to 36.5%) and in their left-handed batter split: .240/.291/.333 for Saunders career compared to .240/.299/.384 for Vargas.
Saunders went 9-13 in 28 starts in 2012 and is 78-65 in his career with a 4.15 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. The 31-year-old southpaw has a career average of 5.1 SO/9 and 2.7 BB/9. He was 8-1 with an ERA of 3.52 in 15 career starts against the M's, including a 6-0 mark with a sparkling 2.13 ERA in nine starts at Safeco Field. Prior to 2012 he topped 200 innings pitched in each of the previous two seasons.
The Mariners have not announced the deal, but the club will need to make another 40-man roster move (Shawn Kelley was DFA'd earlier today when the club added catcher Kelly Shoppach) to officially add Saunders to the fold.