(Saunders) will be on waivers until 1 p.m. ET Thursday, and could be claimed by a team in need of starting pitching — or a team seeking to block another contender from adding him. If Saunders clears waivers, the Diamondbacks can trade him to any club.
According to Rosenthal, the Baltimore Orioles have expressed the most interest in acquiring Saunders.
Intriguing, Saunders was traded from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in July 2010 for right-hander Dan Haren. Coming to Arizona with Saunders was Tyler Skaggs. Per Rosenthal, Arizona trading Saunders would make room for Skaggs to become a regular starter for the Diamondbacks.
The Orioles trading for Saunders would bolster a rotation that could use a veteran pitcher with consistent postseason experience.
Saunders has a career 75-62 record with a 4.17 ERA. His best season was in 2008, when he went 17-7 with a 3.41 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP.
While Saunders has struggled a bit this year (6-10, 4.22 ERA) in the face of seemingly endless trade talks, this 6’3”, 210-lb hurler knows what it is like to journey deep into a pennant race. Saunders also has four postseason starts to his credit ('08, '09, '11).
More importantly for the Orioles, Dan Duquette and Co. may not have to give up the farm to gain Saunders. According to Rosenthal, Saunders “is owed just under $1.5 million for the rest of the season, after which he will become a free agent.”
If Arizona is looking for prospect bats in return, the Orioles do have a few good ones in their system. While the Orioles will most likely not deal outfield prospect L.J. Hoes or second base prospect Jonathan Schoop, it does boast several under-the-radar hitting prospects Arizona might be interested in.
For an Orioles team with some cash to spend, Saunders poses a low-risk, potentially high-reward situation. If Saunders pitches well, Baltimore has a good opportunity to re-sign him. If Saunders does not pitch well, the Orioles can let him walk.
That said, here is how Baltimore's rotation might look like with Saunders come September, once Jason Hammel returns from his knee injury:
1. Jason Hammel (right-hander)
2. Wei-Yin Chen (left-hander)
3. Miguel Gonzalez (right-hander)
4. Joe Saunders (left-hander)
5. Chris Tillman (right-hander)
Furthermore, acquiring Saunders would enable Buck Showalter to move Zach Britton and Brian Matusz to the pen. This would give the Orioles pen two more long-range weapons to bolster an already-potent “orange curtain.”
**UPDATE: AUGUST 26**
Sunday, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported (via Twitter) Arizona is very close to trading Saunders. Destination unknown at this time.
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