Joe Saunders expected to make decision this week on where he’ll sign

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After holding out for a three-year deal for most of the winter, it appears that Joe Saunders is close to deciding where he’ll pitch in 2013.

According to Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports, Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said at the team’s FanFest event today that Saunders is “probably going to make a decision this week.” The Orioles have maintained interest in retaining the veteran southpaw, but Duquette doesn’t have a “real sense” of whether he’ll be back and plans to pursue other veteran pitchers if he opts to sign elsewhere.

Saunders is unlikely to get the three-year contract he covets this late in the winter, so he may have to settle for a one- or two-year deal. The Twins and Mets are among the other clubs who have been connected to him in recent days.

Saunders, 31, posted a 4.07 ERA and 112/39 K/BB ratio over 174 2/3 innings last season with the Diamondbacks and Orioles. He owns a 4.15 ERA over eight seasons in the majors.