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.
Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.
The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.
The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.