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The Diamondbacks may look to trade Joe Saunders

Dec 9, 2011, 9:32 PM EDT

Joe Saunders

The Diamondbacks were discussing a two-year deal with the arbitration-eligible Joe Saunders over the past couple of weeks, but tonight’s acquisition of Trevor Cahill has changed things a bit. In fact, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic hears that Arizona may now trade the veteran left-hander.

Saunders, 30, earned $5.5 million this season while going 12-13 with a 3.69 ERA and 108/67 K/BB ratio over a career-high 212 innings. He stands to make around $8-9 million in his final year of arbitration, which is why the D-Backs were trying to lock him into a multi-year deal for a lower annual salary.

Monday is the deadline for teams to decide whether to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players on their 40-man rosters, so the Diamondbacks are up against the clock to find a match. Piecoro hears that a few teams are interested, including the Red Sox, though his hittable style would seem to be a poor fit in the American League East. While Saunders pitched well (at least superficially) with Arizona this season, he had a career-low strikeout rate while benefitting from a low batting average on balls in play. He probably won’t be so lucky next season, no matter where he pitches.

  1. Ari Collins - Dec 9, 2011 at 9:39 PM

    Reports are that the Sox are interested. I hope reports are false.

  2. djdvd - Dec 9, 2011 at 10:53 PM

    I’d offer a bundle of bats, but they might be useful sometime soon.

  3. uyf1950 - Dec 10, 2011 at 9:00 AM

    Would seem to make sense for the Red Sox. They were looking for a lefty (Bruce Chen) very late in the season last year. One or two years possible, $8 or $9MM for one year or possibly may be $14 or $15MM for a 2 year deal from what the piece seems to indicate and say about him contract wise. He looks like an adequate piece to fill in at the back end of the Sox rotation with Lackey and Dice K out of action.

    And in my opinion they need to start to address some of issues they have with various positions on the field pretty soon.

    • Ari Collins - Dec 10, 2011 at 9:19 AM

      He’s neither cheap nor good. And he’d require a prospect.

      If they have $9MM to spend, it could be better spent practically anywhere else. If the D’backs can’t fool anyone into giving something up for him, they’ll non-tender him. He’s not worth his salary.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 10, 2011 at 9:45 AM

        Ari, I understand but I never said he was good. I said he was “adequate”. As for the “If they have $9MM to spend..”. They certainly have it to spend, whether or not they choose to spend it on him is a totally different question. Any ownership group that can afford to purchase the Liverpool F.C. for I believe about $400MM can certainly afford $8 or $9MM in salary for a player.

      • Ari Collins - Dec 10, 2011 at 10:17 AM

        They want to stay below the luxury cap, if they can. So it’s not about how much money they personally have, I believe. Like you say, I don’t think they’ll choose to spend it, or, if they do, it won’t be on Joe Saunders.

        I suppose “adequate” works if you consider that to mean “below average but not embarrassingly bad.” Regardless, “adequate” is not worth $9MM, let alone giving up a prospect for the privilege of overpaying for adequacy.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 10, 2011 at 11:08 AM

        Ari, “adequate” to me means someone who is just OK and who can fill a need. I guess “not embarrassingly bad” is a good definition. As for him being worth $9MM if pressed I would agree with your statement. But then again of all the major signings during this MLB Winter Meetings (Pujols, Wilson, Reyes, Buehrle and Bell). I’d have to say at least 4 of the 5 were not worth what teams paid for to sign them (dollars and/or years). Yet someone paid them.

        As for the Sox having to give up a prospect. I would think Arizona’s expectation of what they could get is very low. Perhaps the Sox could flip whoever they ultimately wind up getting from the Cubs for Theo Epstein (sorry I couldn’t resist that).

        Anyway I understand where you are coming from. It just seems right now the pickings in “good/decent” starting pitchers at a price apparently the Red Sox would be willing to pay to stay under the luxury tax are pretty slim I’d say.

      • Ari Collins - Dec 10, 2011 at 11:25 AM

        I don’t know, all the players this offseason got salaries in line with their talent. (Except maybe Papelbon.) What I’m saying is that, were Saunders a FA, he’d get less than his arb salary. He’s overpriced from an MLB salary standpoint, to the point where no one wants him at that price.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 10, 2011 at 11:37 AM

        Ari, I would agree about the salary per year salary Papelbon got is probably in line with his talents, but not the years (4 years plus a relatively easy vesting option for a 5th year). That’s the “fly in the ointment” from my perspective with Papelbon’s contract.

        As for your comment about Saunders that “no one wants him at that price”. I’ve been a fan to long and seen far to many teams sign players that no one thought worth the price, to embrace that comment of yours.

  4. cowboysoldiertx - Dec 10, 2011 at 9:01 AM

    A softer tosser who walks a ton of people… Mets might want him and the Padres could make him an ace in their ballpark.

    • uyf1950 - Dec 10, 2011 at 9:11 AM

      But he does consistently give a team 30 plus starts a season something only Lester on the Red Sox has give them over the last 4 years. And actually according to baseball reference in 2011 Saunders only walked 2.8 batters per 9 innings that doesn’t seem abnormally high. The problem is he doesn’t hardly strike out anyone. And if he comes to the AL and especially the AL East his strike out rate will probably go down even further since he won’t be facing many pitchers in AL line ups.

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