M’s Reportedly Sign Joe Saunders
I hesitate to post something so banal after the Felix extension stuff, but we’re going to have to do it sometime. Ken Rosenthal tweets that the M’s have agreed to a one-year deal with free-agent lefty Joe Saunders. If confirmed, that would be somewhat remarkable – I thought there wasn’t any way Saunders would sign with someone for less than two years, and thought three years was a possibility. This move may solidify the back end of the M’s rotation, and it gives them a left-handed starter. While we don’t yet know how much the Safeco reconfiguration will affect home runs, it’s still a decent match of player to park. That said, Saunders has had a long-standing problem with right-handed batters, as Dave talked about over at Fangraphs. He was solid in a pitcher’s park in Anaheim, so here’s hoping Seattle’s marine layer knocks down a few fly balls and allows Saunders to post a 1-2 WAR season in 2013.
In another move, the M’s officially added Kelly Shoppach to the 40-man, and made room by DFA’ing reliever Shawn Kelley. This was a surprise, given that there are players on the 40-man who don’t figure to strike out 9/9IP like Kelley did last year, but ultimately, this isn’t a major surprise. The M’s clearly thought Kelley underperformed his peripherals, as I wrote here (when they demoted him to AAA). Essentially, he’s posted solid ERAs/FIPs, but has had home run problems. Somewhat like Steve Delabar, Kelley’s struggled with long-balls to right-handed hitters – the kind of opponent a fastball/slider reliever like Kelley should annihilate. Instead, RHBs have a career .330 wOBA (and a .480 slg) against him thanks to 16 HRs in 316 batters faced. While HRs are a “true” outcome, HR/FB or HR/Contact is much more variable than something like strikeout rate, so some may see this as an overreaction on the M’s part. But the M’s weren’t going to give him high-leverage innings anymore (not with Carter Capps, Tom Wilhelmsen and even Josh Kinney around), so we’ll see what they can get in trade. I liked Shawn Kelley’s personality and his determination to make it back to the majors after elbow surgery (twice). I think he’ll land with another club and be fairly effective, but he was superfluous on the 2013 M’s.
[EDIT: Joe Saunders 1-year deal is apparently worth $6.5 million, with another $1 million in performance-related bonuses. That’s…that’s pretty cheap, really, and I’m surprised Saunders didn’t get something like 2/$10 somewhere. Maybe the incentives are really easy to attain, but 1/$7.5 is still pretty low. Dave guessed it’d be 1/$8, so he was very, very close, but a base salary of $6.5m is a screaming deal in this market, and way below what I would’ve expected.)