The Mariners look to have found the replacement for Jason Vargas, reportedly agreeing to a one-year deal with free-agent pitcher Joe Saunders pending a physical. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported the move.
Saunders, as we wrote last week, fills a left-handed need in Seattle’s rotation with a pitcher similar to Vargas in terms of how he gets his outs. Both give up their share of flyballs and struck out a mediocre total of about 5.8 batters per nine innings apiece in 2012.
With the fences coming in at Safeco Field, we’ll see how the dimensions impact Saunders, who got tagged for a .302 average and .849 OPS by right-handed hitters last year. Safeco Field used to help Vargas by knocking down some of his flyballs, especially those hit by right-handed batters.
Interestingly enough, as colleague Larry Stone points out, Saunders is 6-0 with a 2.13 ERA lifetime at Safeco Field. The downside to that, of course, is that he was beating up on some bad Mariners teams with a strong Angels squad behind him helping him do it.
So, like I said, we’ll see.
The upside to his signing is that it only took a one-year commitment. Part of my concern about Saunders last week is that he’d been seeking a two-year deal and I didn’t see the point in the M’s committing to that when they have a bunch of young starters poised to enter the big leagues over the next 12 months. So now, that concern is removed.
We don’t have a money figure yet, but Saunders apparently turned down a two-year, $15-million deal already so you have to think he’ll be inking with Seattle for at least the $8.5 million Vargas just got in arbitration from the Angels. Maybe more.
Mariners reportedly agree to one-year deal with pitcher Joe Saunders
Seattle Times | Feb 8