Report: Joe Saunders likely to stay with Diamondbacks

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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.