Originally written on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 1/30/13
Past Kyle Lohse and Javier Vazquez, the best free agent starting pitcher left on the market is probably Joe Saunders, last of the Orioles. Saunders reportedly has a two year, $15 million offer on the table, which is ridiculous to me. That's what Joe Blanton got from the Angels (plus a club option for a third year), and Blanton is a better pitcher across the board than Saunders. But because of how close we are to Spring Training, teams are starting to panic, and players like Saunders get overvalued. To their credit, the Orioles only want to sign Saunders to a one-year deal after a solid seven starts down the stretch with Baltimore. The Twins feel the same way about Saunders and a one-year deal, but he'd be a pretty awful fit with them, considering they are already flooded with pitch to contact types like Kevin Correia, Scott Diamond, and Mike Pelfrey. The Mets and Mariners also reportedly have interest in Saunders, Saunders might make some sense in Seattle (where the back-end of their current rotation is the mediocre but young Blake Beavan and the mediocre and older Hector Noesi), but I don't think Saunders would be a great fit at all in New York. The Mets' rotation heading into 2013 is actually looking pretty solid, and with youngsters Jeurys Familia, Jenrry Mejia, and Zack Wheeler on the cusp of the majors, I don't think a commitment to Saunders would be very prudent for them, even if he's relatively consistent (in terms of innings pitched at least) in comparison to Johan Santana, Dillon Gee, and Shaun Marcum, all of whom missed time in 2012 with injuries. Anyway, back to Saunders. 2012 was one of the best seasons of his career, and he turned 31 in June. He's always been a homer prone guy who doesn't throw hard, doesn't miss many bats, and doesn't get a ton of groundballs (which isn't really a bad thing in and of itself, but when combined with everything else, it's a step in the wrong direction). Saunders is the type of player that should get a one year, $3 million deal and that should be the end of that. But he'll probably end up getting more money annually and a longer-term deal than Scott Feldman and Scott Baker, who have more risks than Saunders but also have much higher upsides. Just a couple of final notes to keep in mind about Saunders: he's never had a FIP under 4.00. He's never had an xFIP under 4.25. He'll be 32 in June. Is this a guy you want to commit multiple years to? At least the Orioles, for as relatively tame of a winter as they've had, aren't bending on their preference to give him a one year deal. [follow]
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