ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that left-hander Joe Saunders “has a very good chance of returning to the Arizona Diamondbacks on a two-year deal.”
The news comes amid rumors that the arbitration-eligible Saunders was likely to be shopped this winter. While he’s a reliable middle-of-the-rotation guy, Saunders was already one of the Diamondbacks’ highest-paid players at $5.5 million last season and he was looking at a raise to at least $7.5 million next year.
Saunders, who was acquired in the Dan Haren trade with the Angels in 2010, went 12-13 with a 3.69 ERA and a 108/67 K/BB ratio in 212 innings last season. It was his best ERA since 2008, but it was also the lowest strikeout rate of his career, suggesting that the ERA might have been something of a fluke. Saunders came in at 4.60 and 4.47 the previous two seasons.
A two-year deal would take care of Saunders last year of arbitration and first of free agency. A safe guess is that it’d earn him about $16 million.
Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.
Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.
The big presidential pardon news today concerns the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence. We’ll leave that aside. For our purposes, know that someone in the world of baseball was pardoned: Willie McCovey.
Yes, Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, who in 1995 pleaded guilty to income tax fraud related to the non-reporting of income received from memorabilia and autograph shows. Duke Snider pleaded guilty alongside McCovey. They were given two years probation and fines of $5,000. Snider died in 2011. McCovey still works with the San Francisco Giants as a senior advisor and goodwill ambassador.
President Obama’s release of McCovey’s pardon was pretty succinct. But it’s enough to scrub the record of one of the greatest sluggers of all time.