After a disappointing week of Winter Meetings, the Washington Nationals are still in the market for a veteran starter to eat innings for the team's young pitching staff. On Monday night, the Arizona Diamondbacks may have answered their call by non-tendering LHP Joe Saunders, according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.
Saunders, 30, was born in Falls Church, Virginia, which is just 10 miles from Nationals Park. The move could bring Saunders back to his metro DC roots where he graduated from West Springfield High School and went to college at Virginia Tech. He was drafted 12th overall in the 2002 Amateur Draft by the then Anaheim Angels.
The veteran lefty has thrown more than 185 innings in each of the last 4 seasons, with the most thrown last season (212 IP). In those same 4 years, Saunders has posted a 4.03 ERA, a 54-44 record, and a slightly above average 104 ERA+. On the less optimistic side, he averaged more than a home run per game, almost 3 walks per game, and posted a good-but-not-great 1.35 WHIP.
During the 2008 and 2009 seasons with the Angels, Saunders went an outstanding 33-14. While it may seem like a record like that would reflect dominating stats, that's just not the case. In that period, he threw up a 3.98 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 9.1 H/9, and 1.2 HR/9. All nearly identical numbers to his career averages. This shows just how much wins and losses mean for a pitcher in today's game.
For the Nationals, though, the possibility of a promising veteran who is still fairly young could be valuable as they wait for a more favorable market for starting pitching. He would only be a stop gap, though. Unless they sign Saunders to an extension, which seems unlikely, he would be a rental player for next year as he reaches free agency at the end of the 2012 campaign. This certainly isn't what the Nats were going for this offseason, but with no real options left, it might be worth shelling out the money to get them to next season or the trade deadline.
Saunders is certainly no Mark Buehrle, but he might eat some innings for a young pitching staff in need of someone to play that role. Though not ideal, it could work as a temporary fix to a gapping hole in the team's rotation: a veteran with proven longevity. He couldn't fit in the top of the rotation like a Buehrle could, but if matched up with other bottom-of-the-rotation starters, Saunders could prove valuable.
If the team doesn't choose to go the Joe Saunders route, Roy Oswalt is still on the market. It does seem that they would have gone that route already if they were seriously interested, though. And if all else fails, there's always Livan Hernandez.
If its a one year thing, then I would rather him come in and give Peacock another half/more than half of the year to put it all together in AAA. Peacock still needs more seasoning.
@AdamHarris I'd rather have Detwiler pitch a year. Much more upside. If he fails, there's Milone. No point in bringing in a mediocre veteran when you have potentially better than mediocre young players. Also, this is a make or break year for those guys. The organization seems to be higher on Peacock and Purke and a free agent, so there's a narrow window for Detwiler/Milone to establish themselves.
@mk7676 Ya know what..thats a good point. I actually agree with you. This really is a make or break year for him (given that he isn't traded, which looks extremely unlikely at this point). So I agree, barring some Darvish miracle (i keep updating mlbtraderumors.com haha) stras, jz, lannan, wang, detwiler
Unfortunately I have to disagree with this one. I've always viewed Saunders as vastly overrated. While it is cool that he is a local guy, I think the Nats would be better served by giving a rotation spot to the younger players.
In the past three seasons, Saunders has not posted an FIP below 4.57, and today's era of incredibly low ERA's, that speaks volumes.
I know he's a lefty and an innings eater, but to me he is a less talented John Lannan.