Joe Saunders in talks with Orioles, Mariners and Padres

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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.

American draft prospect Carter Stewart signs in Japan

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The Atlanta Braves selected high school pitcher Carter Stewart with the number eight overall pick in the 2018 draft. Then, after the draft, they gave Stewart a below-slot signing bonus offer, claiming that they found problems with his wrist in his post-draft physical. Stewart ended up rejecting the offer and the MLBPA filed a grievance against the Braves on Stewart’s behalf.

The grievance sought to make Stewart a free agent it was considered a long shot at the time of its filing and, in fact, the grievance was rejected. Stewart, unable to attain free agency, enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, a two-year school that would’ve made him eligible for the 2019 draft.

Now, Ken Rosenthal reports, Stewart has pulled a crazy Ivan and is heading to Japan, having signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. The terms of the deal aren’t known, but Rosenthal says Stewart was looking for a $7 million guarantee.

It’s a fascinating turn of events for Stewart who, this time last year, was considered perhaps the best amateur pitcher in baseball. Being lowballed and having his health questioned by the Braves may have been a wakeup call to Stewart, however, about his chances of finding a quick path the bigs in the U.S. If the shine did come off of his prospect status in the past year here, there’s every reason to believe that $7 million and a path to the bigs in Japan is a much better deal than several million less and a path to the bigs in America.

He’ll be worth watching over the next few years, that’s for sure. Both for his own sake and to see if, in this era of Major League Baseball’s capping of amateur bonuses and teams’ habit of manipulating service time, going overseas becomes more attractive to American high schoolers and college players.