Joe Saunders enjoyed something of a revival the last two seasons and pitched well for the Baltimore Orioles in the ALDS loss against the New York Yankees. Saunders allowed one run in 5.2 innings against the Yankees in the ALDS after posting a 3.63 ERA in seven regular season games after being acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Saunders, 31, has been sitting on the sidelines this off-season, hoping for a multi-year deal but only being offered one-year deals from teams like the Minnesota Twins. Now, there are rumors that Saunders has been offered a two-year deal from an unnamed team. Right now it seems like that two-year contract offer has not come from the Orioles or the Twins. Could the Seattle Mariners be that team?
The Mariners were linked to Saunders earlier this season and the team has been trying to reshape its roster to improve upon a 75-win season. The Mariners have acquired Mike Morse via trade with the Washington Nationals, Kendrys Morales from the Los Angeles Angels, and signed Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez. The Mariners also tried to obtain Justin Upton but that deal fell through when Upton blocked the deal.
Now, with their offense addressed as best as can be done at the moment, the Mariners might be focusing on pitching. Right now, Hector Noesi is likely to be the fifth starter, taking the ball behind Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Blake Beavan and possibly Erasmo Ramirez. There is no question that the Mariners need reinforcements in the rotation if for no other reason to add competition in spring training.
Adding a left-handed pitcher like Joe Saunders would be a wise move for the Mariners. Saunders could see some success pitching in Safeco Field even if they are bringing the fences in to help ignite their offense. He owns a .224/.297/.328 opponents slash line at Safeco, though that was facing the Mariners and not pitching for them. Saunders could probably step in as the No. 3 starter for the Mariners, offering the team about 200 innings of solid pitching, something the Mariners could use at this point.
It wouldn’t surprise me at all to find out the Mariners are the mystery team offering Saunders a two-year deal.