M’s Reportedly Sign Joe Saunders

marc w · February 7, 2013 at 5:05 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

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.)


58 Responses to “M’s Reportedly Sign Joe Saunders”

  1. eponymous coward on February 10th, 2013 10:09 am

    I should amend that to say “lose out on Justin Smoak” (11th pick, 2008, obviously a couple of MLB GMs thought he was a talented player who’d pan out to be a good MLB regular… and we know how that’s gone so far).

  2. stevemotivateir on February 10th, 2013 11:31 am

    The state of the team is that we don’t particularly have a lot of OFers, and it isn’t particularly apparent that we’ll be flush with them in 2014.

    Or 2015, or 2016 for that matter. Really, it’s crazy just how thin the organization is with outfield talent.

    It made all the sense in the world to ‘spend’ on an outfield free agent or two. Instead, we go the cheap route with short-term deals, and ditch our best hitter in the process. And still failed to add a decent outfield glove.

    Maybe I’m crazy, but I fail to see how the M’s did anything significant to strengthen the core moving forward. The team should be a little better next year, sure, but it’s not hard to see how this could all blow-up.

    Hopefully luck will be on our side.

  3. MrZDevotee on February 10th, 2013 11:57 am

    RE: OF

    The M’s have been particularly unlucky in developing our own outfield talent… Guys just haven’t panned out…

    Trayvon Robinson
    Jeremy Reed
    Mike Morse (the first time)
    Mike Wilson
    Greg Halman
    Saunders (until last year)
    Ryan Langerhans
    Charlton Jimerson
    Wladimir Valentien

    The TWO guys who became prominent starting players in the majors were traded to other teams before it happened (Adam Jones and Shin Soo Choo).

    I think a mistake was made in thinking we didn’t need to worry about 2/3 of our outfield for the foreseeable future, when we instilled Guty alongside Ichiro in CF and RF. The idea was probably that at least ONE of the above guys could become a LF in the majors. And with any luck, the next best will be our 4th OF.

    It didn’t work out that way. And now we’re sorely lacking in OF talent.

    Although I have high hopes for Leon Landry. Kid can rake, has good discipline, and great defense.

  4. henryv on February 10th, 2013 12:00 pm

    And if you toss a bunch of money at a couple big price free agents on long or medium contracts, you now have lost out on the following 2-3 years of free agents, while having the potential to have two more Chone Figgins or Richie Sexsons on the team.

  5. stevemotivateir on February 10th, 2013 12:19 pm

    There’s risk in any free agent signing or move you make. That doesn’t mean targeting proven, consistent hitters, isn’t a wise move, or worth a shot. And it doesn’t mean you’ve lost out on anything in the future, because you don’t know what the payroll will be, or who will be available and at what price.

    I like the chances of success with a guy like Swisher at 14-15 million a year, a lot better than I do hoping for a rebound from a guy like Bay at 1 million, or swapping out our best hitter for a guy who offers zero defense, and is arguably no better with the bat.

  6. bookbook on February 10th, 2013 12:57 pm

    Romero is the most likely internal answer for the outfield (at a corner), followed by Morban.

  7. eponymous coward on February 10th, 2013 1:01 pm

    And if you toss a bunch of money at a couple big price free agents on long or medium contracts, you now have lost out on the following 2-3 years of free agents, while having the potential to have two more Chone Figgins or Richie Sexsons on the team.

    Or Adrian Beltres. Even Bill Bavasi could make some good signings.

    Oh, and you have noticed that Arte Moreno hasn’t decided to stop spending on free agents, right? The idea that the M’s can only make one or two significant signings and then they are done for a few years…well, that’s self imposed because of their salary budget (and letting Chone’s 8 million stop us from making signings is kind of laughable). Which is sort of getting back to my point of the M’s perhaps not really being very serious about expanding payroll, as we were hearing earlier in the offseason., and deciding to keep payroll stable and vamping for time while hoping the kids bust out.

  8. Typical Idiot Fan on February 10th, 2013 5:28 pm

    No, I’m implying the talk about expanding payroll wasn’t all that serious. Otherwise we’d have guys like Bourn and Swisher signed.

    How on God’s green Earth do you reach this conclusion. You’re pretty much stating that the only thing standing between the Mariners and Swisher or Bourn is money concerns. That’s it? There are / were no other concerns? No other impediments from the respective players ends? Nothing?

    You’re going awfully quick in the Geoff Baker direction for some reason. Let me ask you a hypothetical question: what if Josh Hamilton and his agent had accepted the 4 year 100 million dollar offer? What if Justin Upton hadn’t invoked his no trade clause? Where would your conclusions about payroll be then?

    In the former case, at the time the Mariners would have landed Hamilton they’d have been at roughly $70m already committed to 2013. Hamilton would have made that $95m, assuming no shenanigans with backloading the contract. That would put them already above where they’re at now by at least ten million. If you, and the ever convinced of his own stances regardless of any evidence Baker, are right, then the Mariners would never have even RISKED this deal with Hamilton on the off chance he suddenly decided he really liked Seattle weather. This is to say nothing of any other possible moves the Mariners would have made afterward.

    Upton is the same way. With Hamilton out of the picture and Morse not yet traded for, the Mariners probably had roughly the same amount on the books. While Upton wouldn’t have increased the payroll significantly for 2013, he would have beyond this point. Furthermore, it would have cost the one thing that Jack Z really does value in long term prospects. Again, there’s considerable risk here that Upton wouldn’t just change his mind and force everything to happen regardless of the Mariner’s true intentions.

    See, Baker makes absolutely sure in that article to point out that the Mariners KNEW that Upton had the M’s on his no trade list. I have never heard anybody in the organization say they know this for sure, but even if they did, so fucking what? Baker mentions it in order to continue fostering the idea that the Mariners were never serious about payroll increases or long term player acquisition. He’s trying to stir the pot on something he flat out knows fucking nothing about. The question is, why are you buying into his conspiratorial bullshit instead of tossing it aside as conjecture based on speculation and coincidental evidence at best?

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