Joe Saunders Signs with Seattle

In case you missed it, veteran lefthanded starter Joe Saunders signed with the Seattle Mariners.

The 31-year-old seemed a good fit for the Mets, but not at his ultimate price – $6.5M plus another $1.5M in possible incentives, as well as a mutual option for 2014. I’m mildly surprised the Orioles didn’t try harder to bring Saunders back to Baltimore.

The Mariners also signed the righthanded version of Saunders — Jon Garland — albeit to a minor-league deal. Garland had shoulder surgery back in July 2011 and hasn’t pitched in MLB since. Funny, I didn’t even notice that he was gone.

Someone needs to catch all those pitchers in Mariners camp, so Seattle signed former Met Kelly Shoppach to a one-year, $1.5M contract that includes another $500K in incentives. As a comparison, new Mets catcher John Buck will be paid $6M in 2013 — is he $4.5M better than Shoppach? We’ll see.

In other news, Chone Figgins has signed a minor-league deal with the Marlins. I don’t think he’s going to quite replace Jose Reyes, but he just might make the team.

The Marlins also signed Jon Rauch, though unlike Figgins, Rauch gets a Major League contract — one worth $1M, plus another $750K in incentives. Rauch had a nice bounceback season for the Mets, and I thought there was a decent chance he’d return. With Rauch, Mike Pelfrey, and Adam Loewen all gone from the organization, who will the Mets play in the front court? Though, Chris Young is still available …

Speaking of former Mets, Rod Barajas has agreed to a minor league deal with the Diamondbacks. I’m not sure there is a worse backstop in MLB who is, miraculously, as over-valued as Barajas. Even when critics call him “terrible,” they’re being kind.

Reliever Mark Lowe has received a minor-league deal from the Dodgers that could be worth in excess of $2M if he makes the team and reaches certain incentives. Nice low-risk pickup by LA. If the flamethrowing Lowe can stay healthy, he’ll be a major asset in the middle innings for the Dodgers. If he can’t, LA doesn’t owe him much. Though, for someone who throws as hard as he does, Lowe doesn’t miss many bats. Bobby Parnell syndrome?

Jonathan Sanchez signed a minor-league deal with the Pirates, who clearly have no recollection of Oliver Perez. Still, another low-risk move.

Jeremy Accardo is another washed-up pitcher who received a spring training invite. The Nationals gave him a minor-league deal. Hey, you never know.

Because there are never enough former Mets in the news, Ramon Ramirez returned to the Giants, signing a minor-league deal. Hmm … so a year later, the Giants wind up with Ramirez, Andres Torres, AND Angel Pagan. It may mean nothing in the end, but it sure doesn’t look good.

Rich Hill signed a minor-league deal with the Indians. Hill had Tommy John surgery in 2011, and pitched only 19 innings in his 2012 comeback. This could turn out to be one of those under-the-radar signings that pans out well.

I must have been really busy at work this week, because I didn’t even notice the trade of Jed Lowrie to Oakland for Chris Carter. The deal also involved Brad Peacock and Max Stassi going to Houston, and Fernando Rodriguez moving to the A’s. Looks like a good deal for both sides.

Once again, the Pirates have signed Francisco Liriano. No really, it’s for real this time. The deal officially has the lefthander receiving only $1M guaranteed, but incentives can get him back to the nearly $13M he originally agreed to before breaking his right(non-throwing) arm.

Finally, Michael Bourn remains a free agent, though the Mets remain interested in helping his agent Scott Boras drive up the bidding process.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Izzy February 10, 2013 at 9:14 am
    Saunders represents everything wrong with baseball contracts. No more than a mediocrity, doesn’t make a team good, just provides crummy innings all year, yet he is paid several millions dollars and brings no revenue in and is not anything close to a difference maker. This is one case where I’m glad the Mets didn’t touch. You are better off with signing a bunch of injured dudes and hope one makes a comeback to reach the unlofty heights of a guy like Saunders.
    • Joe Janish February 10, 2013 at 10:31 am
      Izzy, I agree that the salary for Saunders is high, he’s not a difference-maker, he brings in no revenue directly, and is no more than a mediocrity. However, he can be much more valuable than “a bunch of injured dudes” to the right team. Saunders is at a point now where Steve Trachsel was in 2006 — a mediocre starter, but one who can be counted on to take the ball every five days and give the team 5 or maybe 6 decent innings and keep the game manageable. For a team with a strong offense and question marks in the rotation, that’s huge. Again, see Trax in ’06, and the disastrous #4 and #5 starters the Mets put on the mound that year due to injuries. Had the Mets rolled the dice on three or four pitchers coming off injury, they likely would have spent just as much if not more money and may not have gotten the 30 starts and 160+ innings they needed from Trax that year. BTW, I HATED Trax but I now understand why he was necessary.

      For the Mets, Saunders probably didn’t make sense, since the team’s going nowhere in ’13.

      • Izzy February 10, 2013 at 6:20 pm
        Is he going to a team with much offense? Unless I missed some moves the M’s seem to be in need of offense. A guy with a 4 plus ERA every year cannot be of much help to them. You might be right. But I would see it more if he were signed by an offensive power house like the Angels. Anyway, glad he is’nt in Queens.
        • Joe Janish February 10, 2013 at 7:48 pm
          I didn’t say he made sense for Seattle, either — let the boys at Pro Ball NW (Mariners SweetSpot Blog) worry about that.

          Agreed, he makes sense on a team like the Angels — who already picked up their “Saunders” in Joe Blanton.

          If Santana, Gee, Harvey, Niese, and Marcum can make 30 starts each, then Saunders would make no sense. However if the Mets hadn’t picked up Marcum, and if Saunders could’ve been had for about half of what the M’s gave him, it might’ve made sense. The Mets’ young arms need to be protected this year by veteran innings-eaters.

        • DaveSchneck February 11, 2013 at 10:15 am
          The point about protecting the young arms cannot be stated enough. We can’t get hung up too much on the money – middling vet pitchers now make a minimum of $5 mil year, that’s the market reality. I like the Marcum signing over Saunders on virtually every level. If Santana pitches well this is a very solid starting 5, I perhaps better than the Braves and Phillies.
      • Dan February 10, 2013 at 8:22 pm
        Agree on Saunders not making Met sense, but at least one of the troubled 2006 Met pitching slots was self inflicted, nothing to do with injury.
  2. Dan B February 10, 2013 at 12:05 pm
    Joe, I agree with you except for one aspect. I almost feel the Mets need to catch lightning in a bottle, again, in order to create trade bait for prospects. Saunders won’t do that. But another Capuano (I won’t bother wishing for another Dickey) might bring in a useful prospect at the trading deadline, especially at a cheaper salary then Saunders. If we were. 500 or better, Saunders would be more appropriate. Of course, the last time we found a Capuano, we never capitalized on it. Nobody the Mets sign now will truly be useful in 2015 when we hope for an upswing so maybe the Mets should be thinking trade bait first.
    • norme February 10, 2013 at 1:59 pm
      It would have been nice if Sandy had used Capuano as trade bait instead of letting him walk. Not as bad as Reyes, but……..
    • Joe Janish February 10, 2013 at 7:51 pm
      I believe Shaun Marcum is that “lightning in a bottle,” but we’ll see if Alderson deals him. If I were the GM, I’d be very quick to get something for Marcum if he proves effective in the first three months of the season, as I’m not convinced he can stay healthy for 32 starts.
  3. TexasGusCC February 10, 2013 at 3:37 pm
    Tony Campana was just released by the Cubs to make room for Scott Hairston on the 40 man roster. Campana’s stats: 347 ABs, 54 sb, 44 r, .260 avg, .308 obp.
    Bourn for $14MM and 40-45 sb, or Campana for a song and mabe 75-80 sb?
    • argonbunnies February 10, 2013 at 7:18 pm
      I’d love to see us add Campana to the organization. His complete lack of power means pitchers will never hesitate to throw him strikes — at least Bourn can hit the ball deep into the OF on occasion — and I don’t see him getting on base enough to deserve many ABs. But he’d be the best pinch-runner out there, and presumably a viable defensive sub. Great guy to bounce back and forth between AAA and the bigs as needs come and go.

      I wonder what the competition for his services will be like. Is he free to sign with whoever? If so, our unsettled OF might make the Mets an appealing option for him…

      • TexasGusCC February 10, 2013 at 8:45 pm
        I realize that he can’t reach the outfield walls from home plate if he hit it twice, but, I just would rather the Mets spend around $14MM on someone who can score 90 runs AND drive in 90-100. I like Bourn and his 90/45 run production, but just don’t love him. Problem is that right now, there doesn’t seem to be anything available to upgrade the outfield, so I recommended they save the money, wait and get this kid for now. I can’t believe the Mets are making me frugal!
        • Joe Janish February 10, 2013 at 9:03 pm
          Gus, thanks for pointing out the Campana DFA. It’s been made into its own post, if you haven’t yet seen.
        • TexasGusCC February 11, 2013 at 12:56 am
          I noticed, and boy do you do research! You know how I feel.
        • Joe Janish February 11, 2013 at 1:40 am
          Thanks for the tip!