Joe Saunders
Joe Saunders
37-Year-Old PitcherRP
 Free Agent  
Free Agent
2019 Fantasy Outlook
There was no outlook written for Joe Saunders in 2019. Check out the latest news below for more on his current fantasy value.
$Signed a minor league contract with the Orioles in August 2014.
PSeattle Mariners  
April 1, 2015
Saunders was released but re-signed with the Mariners on a new minor league deal Tuesday, the Tacoma News Tribune reports.
ANALYSIS
Rather than pay Saunders a $100,000 retention bonus as mandated by Rule XX (B) for major league free agents who signed minor league deals, the Mariners released Saunders and re-signed him on a new deal that isn't covered by those provisions. Saunders was recently reassigned to the minors after giving up nine earned runs on 12 hits and five walks over just 6.1 spring innings. He is not on the 40-man roster and will be hard-pressed to earn a spot this season.
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Recent RotoWire Articles Featuring Joe Saunders
Fantasy 101: Winning Tournaments with Home Runs
August 4, 2015
Winning tournaments on FanDuel requires a lot of things to go right, and it's imperative to maximize the number of home-run hitters on your squad.
Mariners Team Preview: Playoffs or Bust
February 22, 2015
The Mariners upgraded offensively this offseason, but the team's playoff hopes could hinge on how much the pitching staff regresses from last year's historic numbers.
Tuesday Lineup Card: Call-Up Day
September 1, 2014
As usual, Sept. 1 features a list of prospect and non-prospect call-ups a mile long -- with some noteworthy names mixed in.
Wednesday Lineup Card: They Called Up Kennys!
August 5, 2014
He may not be Byron Buxton or Miguel Sano, but Kennys Vargas is a Minnesota hitting prospect worth your attention.
Wednesday Lineup Card: Bet on Brett
July 29, 2014
The Colorado rotation is often a place where good pitchers go to die, but lefty Brett Anderson is doing his best to rewrite that narrative.
Past Fantasy Outlooks
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Signed by the Mariners to a $6.5 million deal two years ago, the front office managed to sign him to a minor league deal in February. Not much good can be said about Saunders' 2014 season -- he went 0-5 with a 6.70 ERA and 2.07 WHIP over 43 innings -- but the one positive is that he held opposing lefties to a combined .616 OPS. That number was basically identical to his career mark against left-handers (.617 OPS), and with Seattle rather thin on southpaws in the bullpen, it's possible Saunders could work his way into a specialist role with a strong spring. With Taijuan Walker, Roenis Elias, Danny Hultzen, and Erasmo Ramirez offering better options as the No. 5 starter, it's likely that Saunders will be cast into a relief role -- either as a swing man or a LOOGY, with the latter being more likely than the former at this stage of his career.
The best thing that can be said about Saunders is that he's a capable innings eater. Last season with the Mariners, that's about all he did. He induces a ton of groundballs, but doesn't strike out too many batters and doesn't have great control. The southpaw was nearly as lousy at pitcher-friendly Safeco Field (4.99 ERA) as he was on the road (5.45). He's tough on left-handed batters (.214 BAA) but got crushed by righties (.337). Someone had to fill the back of the rotation, though, so the Mariners thanked him for his service before sending him on this way this offeason by declining a team option. He'll land somewhere in spring, but don't expect much more than he offered last season.
Saunders has a reputation of being a solid No.3 or 4 starter and his conventional statistics reflect that. But while splitting the season for the Diamondbacks and the Orioles, Saunders quietly put together the best strikeout rate (15.0%) and the lowest walk rate (5.2%) of his career. Naturally, that gave Saunders a career-best 2.87 K/BB ratio. Make no mistake, Saunders is a finesse pitcher who can touch 90 mph with his fastball only on occasion. Saunders' impressive campaign had the Orioles eying a re-sign, but he is certainly going to be courted by several teams in the offseason and will land likely in the middle of the rotation.
In terms of durability, Saunders has proven to be one of the most reliable starters in baseball over the last four seasons. Saunders doesn't offer much to fantasy owners with his low strikeout rate (career 5.02 K/9IP over 986.2 innings) and it would be wise to consider his 4.38 xFIP as a baseline rather than the 3.69 ERA he posted with Arizona on the strength of a 78 percent strand rate and .271 BABIP. Saunders returned to the D-Backs by signing a one-year deal in January, where he should chew up innings in the back of the rotation and afford the team's pitching prospects additional development time.
We always like to think that moving to the National League will significantly increase a starting pitcher's strikeout rate. In Saunders' case, the improvement wasn't overwhelming as he only pushed his mark from 4.8 K/9IP over 120.2 innings with the Angels to 5.4 after he was sent to the D-Backs as part of the Dan Haren trade. His greatest value to Arizona is tied to durability (95 starts since 2008) and that he's a left-handed starter in a rotation that is otherwise entirely right-handed. Given the uncertainty of the D-Backs' bullpen and his propensity to pitch to contact in a hitter-friendly park, Saunders is volatile commodity best left to those in NL-only and very deep mixed formats.
The differences between his 2008 and 2009 sound small - a half-dozen singles, nine homers, 11 walks - but they add up to a lot of runs. Saunders' pitch-to-contact style can be effective, but he needs to walk few hitters and allow few homers for it to work. The truth lies between his last two seasons; Saunders is a worthwhile, if unsexy, fantasy pitcher.
Saunders was supposed to battle Ervin Santana for the final rotation spot in spring training last season yet, like Santana, Saunders found a spot in the rotation and refused to give it back. Unlike Santana, there's a fear that Saunders won't be able to repeat his breakout performance, in no small part due to his inability to miss bats (4.68 K/9 in 2008). That fear is partially addressed by an above-average ability to induce ground balls, but don't be surprised to see him fall off the pace some in 2009.
Saunders was a pleasant surprise for the Angels last season, throwing 107.1 innings while going 8-5 with a 4.44 ERA and earning a spot in the starting rotation. He isn’t overpowering (69 strikeouts), but he does throw from the left side and has very good command of his fastball. Saunders will battle Ervin Santana for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, but even if he wins it, Saunders’ numbers aren’t good enough for him to be a consistent fantasy contributor in most formats.
At age 26 and lacking dominant stuff, Saunders is what he's going to be, a command southpaw who does a lot of things well, and should open the season as the team's sole lefthanded starter, pending Bartolo Colon's availability. The Angels' strong bullpen makes him a decent bet for six-inning wins.
The Angels 2005 minor league pitcher of the year, Saunders has the inside track on the fifth starter's job heading into camp. Mike Scioscia has stated his preference to have at least one lefty in the rotation. Look for Saunders to win the starting job and experience inconsistent results with flashes of promise throughout the season.
Anaheim's No. 1 draft choice in 2002 spent 2003 on the disabled list with a torn rotator cuff. His overall California League performance in 2004 was mediocre, but the recovery process from a torn labrum takes time beyond the return to the field. It'll take improvement in 2005 before he's considered fully back on track.
Anaheim's No. 1 draft choice in 2002 spent 2003 on the disabled list with a torn rotator cuff. His doctors recommended therapy over surgery, and it's anybody's guess as to how Saunders responds in 2004.
More Fantasy News
PSeattle Mariners  
March 29, 2015
Saunders was reassigned to minor league camp Sunday, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports.
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PSeattle Mariners  
March 24, 2015
Saunders, who has allowed seven runs in 4.1 spring innings, is likely out of the running for the second lefty job in the bullpen, the Tacoma News Tribune reports.
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PSeattle Mariners  
February 20, 2015
Saunders signed a minor league contract with the Mariners on Friday that includes an invite to spring training, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports.
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PBaltimore Orioles  
September 1, 2014
Saunders' contract was selected from Triple-A Norfolk on Monday, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports.
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Joe Saunders: Inks With Baltimore
PBaltimore Orioles  
August 1, 2014
Saunders signed a minor-league contract with the Orioles on Friday, Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports reports.
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