The Baltimore Orioles acquired starting pitcher Joe Saunders from the Arizona Diamondbacks for reliever Matt Lindstrom and a player to be named later. The Diamondbacks also sent some cash to offset the $1 million plus still owed to Saunders for the rest of the 2012 season.
Lindstrom had been acquired before the season along with Jason Hammel from the Rockies in the Jeremy Guthrie trade. Lindstrom pitched well for the O's but a stretch on the DL between May 10th and June 27th had limited him to 36.1 innings for the club. He was the second highest paid player in the bullpen (behind Kevin Gregg) making $3.6 million in 2012. Although he has been valuable, if the Orioles have any strength to deal from it is within their relief corp and it was unlikely that the team would excercise his hefty $4 million option for 2013 ($200,000 buyout). This is not a whole lot for the club to give up in terms of relative value.
Saunders is kind of a left-handed version of Jeremy Guthrie. He's a low-strikeout, low-walk guy who gives up his fair share of homers but seems to survive with a middling ground ball rate and eats up the innings. Indeed, Saunders routinely tops 180 innings pitched and there is value in a slightly above average starter who can provide that number of innings. (Yes, these are the exact things I used to say about Jeremy Guthrie...) Now, there's no guarantee that Saunders will actually be an above average starter coming in from the NL West to the AL East but he should at least approach averagish results. That's more than we can say about some pitchers who have been starting games for Baltimore over the last couple of months.
While it's not exactly a world changer for the team, any move that keeps the likes of Dana Eveland and Tommy Hanson a step further away from the mound at Camden Yards is a good thing. And I like bolstering the starting rotation this way better than trading prospects for Joe Blanton.
Hard to get too excited but I think Saunders helps this team on its improbable wild card chase in September.