Joe Saunders had a very good season in Arizona, throwing 212 innings with a 3.69 ERA despite a mediocre 109/68 K/BB ratio, but Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the Diamondbacks may end up non-tendering the 30-year-old left-hander rather than giving him a raise to $7-8 million via arbitration.
Saunders earned $5.5 million this year and made it clear to Piecoro that he wants to stick around, but that’s awfully expensive for someone with a 4.16 career ERA, just 5.0 strikeouts per nine innings, and underwhelming raw stuff.
General manager Kevin Towers hinted that the team’s interest in retaining Saunders at that salary will depend on the free agent market for starters. In other words, if the price tags are too high on their various targets the Diamondbacks could view Saunders as a one-year fallback plan.
December 12 is the deadline to tender arbitration eligible players a contract.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.