Joe Saunders may have priced himself out of Arizona’s plans

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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.

Giants nearing deal with Cameron Maybin

Cameron Maybin
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The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.

Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.

The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.

In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.