After holding out for a three-year deal for most of the winter, it appears that Joe Saunders is close to deciding where he’ll pitch in 2013.
According to Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports, Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said at the team’s FanFest event today that Saunders is “probably going to make a decision this week.” The Orioles have maintained interest in retaining the veteran southpaw, but Duquette doesn’t have a “real sense” of whether he’ll be back and plans to pursue other veteran pitchers if he opts to sign elsewhere.
Saunders is unlikely to get the three-year contract he covets this late in the winter, so he may have to settle for a one- or two-year deal. The Twins and Mets are among the other clubs who have been connected to him in recent days.
Saunders, 31, posted a 4.07 ERA and 112/39 K/BB ratio over 174 2/3 innings last season with the Diamondbacks and Orioles. He owns a 4.15 ERA over eight seasons in the majors.
CC Sabathia‘s contract with the Yankees expires after the 2017 season but the lefty feels that he has enough left in the tank to pitch in 2018 and beyond, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports.
Sabathia said, “I just know myself. I know I feel like it’s not my time yet. Barring any crazy injuries I know I can pitch past next year. I feel like this is just the beginning of what I’m trying to do. I feel like there’s a lot more still to learn and a lot better to get. It’s exciting.”
The 36-year-old lefty currently holds a 4.02 ERA and a 144/63 K/BB ratio in 172 1/3 innings. It’s his best and healthiest season since 2012. He battled a knee injury last season and checked into rehab for alcohol addiction last October. Sabathia said that being treated for his addiction put him “in a good spot.”
Sabathia is owed $25 million through a vesting option for the 2017 season.
The Red Sox can thank the Orioles for not having to fight to clinch the division on Thursday or later. The Orioles came from behind to defeat the Blue Jays 3-2 on Wednesday evening, clinching the AL East for the Red Sox.
A few minutes after that game went final, the Red Sox squandered a 3-0 lead taken in the eighth inning, culminating in a walk-off grand slam by Mark Teixeira in the bottom of the ninth inning. Closer Craig Kimbrel started the ninth, but didn’t have control over any of his pitches. He allowed a leadoff single followed by three consecutive walks to force in a run. Joe Kelly relieved Kimbrel and seemed to be close to wriggling out of the jam, getting Starlin Castro to strike out looking and Didi Gregorius to pop up. But after starting Teixeira with a first-pitch curve ball for a strike, Teixera clobbered a 99 MPH fastball, sending it over the fence in right-center to end the game.
For the Yankees, the come-from-behind victory was crucial as it staved off Wild Card elimination for one more day.
This is the first time the Red Sox have clinched the AL East since 2013, also the last year they won the World Series.