In a world where Joe Blanton gets two years with an option, Jeremy Guthrie gets three years and Edwin Jackson gets four, Joe Saunders wants his piece of the pie.
Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports that Saunders was originally seeking a four-year deal last month and is now looking for a three-year deal. While the 31-year-old southpaw told Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun that he would “love to come back to Baltimore,” Encina hears that the O’s are prepared to walk away if he doesn’t lower his demands.
Saunders posted a 4.07 ERA and 112/39 K/BB ratio in 174 2/3 innings last season between the Diamondbacks and Orioles and has made at least 28 starts in five straight seasons. The Mariners, Mets, Padres and Twins are among the other teams who have expressed interest this winter.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.