San Diego Padres Are Targeting Pitcher Joe Saunders

Paul Francis SullivanChief Writer IDecember 30, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 08: Starting pitcher Joe Saunders #48 of the Baltimore Orioles throws to a New York Yankees batter during the first inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 8, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The free-agent market appears to be heading into 2013 with several capable arms still available. One of them, Joe Saunders, is being sought by several teams including the San Diego Padres.

According to the Twitter feed of Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the former Baltimore Orioles starter has been talking with the Padres and Seattle Mariners, as well as entertaining the thought of returning to Baltimore.

The former All-Star left-hander still can be relied on for a lot of innings, and he can deliver in a big spot, just like he proved when he won the wild-card play-in game against the Texas Rangers this October.

The Padres will be relying on the likes of Clayton Richard and Edinson Volquez to carry the bulk of the innings while waiting for prospects Casey Kelly and Andrew Cashner to develop.

The key to winning in the ultra competitive National League West is pitching depth. What the Padres lack in an ace like Matt Cain or Clayton Kershaw, they can make up for with a collection of good, if not Cy Young-caliber pitchers.

Saunders could provide the innings they need in order to allow some flexibility in their development and provide a second lefty to a rotation that already features Eric Stults.

He can also play the role of seasoned veteran along with Jason Marquis in the rotation, and Huston Street in the bullpen.

The Padres are a young and talented team who finished strong last season. An improved pitching staff could go a long way in starting the season right, and adding Joe Saunders would be a vital first step.