UPDATE: Marc Carig of New York Newsday reports that the Mets have also discussed Saunders as an option to replace R.A. Dickey. However, it’s not clear whether they have spoken with his agent or if they are willing to go to multiple years in order to sign him.
10:01 AM: We heard earlier this week that the Orioles were in talks to bring back left-hander Joe Saunders, but they are going to have to fend off some competition.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Saunders is also talking to the Mariners and Padres. The Pirates were involved at one point, but they are likely out after reaching a two-year, $12.75 million contract with left-hander Francisco Liriano yesterday.
Saunders, 31, had a 4.07 ERA and 112/39 K/BB ratio in 174 2/3 innings this past season between the Diamondbacks and Orioles. With a 4.15 ERA over eight seasons in the majors, his numbers compare favorably to Joe Blanton, who recently agreed to a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels.
Veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon was released from his minor league deal with the Rangers on Saturday, MLB.com’s TR Sullivan reports. Despite his strong showing in spring training, Colon wasn’t considered a lock to make the Opening Day rotation. This may not be the end of his time with the team, however — according to multiple reports, the Rangers have expressed their desire to restructure a minor league deal with the right-hander and could work out an arrangement to keep him on as bullpen and Triple-A depth this season.
Colon, 44, is preparing for his 21st year in the majors. He split his 2017 campaign with the Braves and Twins, posting a cumulative 7-14 record in 28 starts and finishing the season with a 6.48 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 5.6 SO/9 in 143 innings. While those numbers were some of the worst he’d seen since 2009, the veteran righty made a compelling case in camp this spring, holding batters to six earned runs, four home runs, two walks and 10 strikeouts in 18 innings.
The Rangers are expected to open the season with a rotation comprised of Cole Hamels, Doug Fister, Matt Moore, Mike Minor and Martin Perez. Perez is working his way back from an elbow injury in his non-throwing arm and is slated to miss his first start of the season, which would provide a brief window of opportunity for Colon when the Rangers hit the road in April.