The Angels are just over a week away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, with camp opening in Tempe, AZ on February 13th. Despite some well publicized rumors of a search for rotation help, they still have yet to find another starting pitcher. Of course, the Angels have been linked to free agent pitchers all off-season, from Masahiro Tanaka to Matt Garza, but no deals have been signed.
As things stand right now, they could start the season with a rotation that currently includes Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago, or try to add another veteran. There are of course some good free agents still on the market, but the Angels are unlikely to be bidders on any of the big names still on the market, like Bronson Arroyo, Ervin Santana, or Ubaldo Jimenez, leaving them open to second and third-tier starters.
One free agent I have been tracking all offseason is Joe Saunders. He doesn’t seem to have any offers and with time winding down so is his price tag.
Joe Saunders pitched six seasons with the Halos going 54-32 while having a 4.29 ERA. Saunders also enjoyed the best season of his career in an Angels uniform, posting a 17-7 record, a 3.41 ERA, and grabbing an All-Star selection in 2008. His most recent season with the Seattle Mariners he posted a 5.26 ERA, but over his career he has been able to give solid starts and eat up innings.
Signing him to a one-year deal could pay off and help bring another veteran starter to the staff. In doing so this will give Tyler Skaggs (13 career starts) more time to develop in the minors or move Hector Santiago to the bullpen. It will give the Angels more options going into the 2014 season.
However, Saunders is also homer prone, having averaged 26 long-balls surrendered over his 9-year career. Also, as pointed out by a reader comment earlier this week, adding another lefty arm to the mix this spring may be counter-productive, given that the team is also giving Mark Mulder a serios look in camp.
The 32-year-old can still throw the ball and win games, and I would like to see the Angels and Saunders reunite. There hasn’t been any rumors of this, but this could be the best option with what’s left in the free agent market. Even on a minor league deal, the team may not have much to lose here.