Does Saunders still have a place with the Orioles?

Does Saunders still have a place with the Orioles?
December 19, 2012, 9:15 am

There are still a few name brand starting pitchers left in the free agent market. The Orioles don’t appear to be eager to sign any of them.

Edwin Jackson, Kyle Lohse and Carl Pavano can all be had. So could Brett Myers, Joe Saunders and Carlos Zambrano. But, only Saunders seems plausible for the Orioles.

A year ago, Jackson was a free agent, and the Orioles considered signing him. His price tag was considered high, and the Nationals signed him. After a mediocre season, Washington showed no interest in signing the 29-year-old right-hander who teases team after team.

He’s already pitched for seven different teams, and with a lifetime record a tick under .500 (70-71), Jackson is reportedly about to pitch for his eighth, either the Chicago Cubs or Texas Rangers. The numbers thrown out for Jackson (four years, $50 million) are absurd.

At 34, Lohse is looking to cash in on a career-best season. He was 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA. St. Louis made him a qualifying offer, and the loss of a draft choice, may well have dampened what could have been a more robust market for Lohse.

Pavano has a lifetime record that’s comparable to Jackson’s (108-107), but is about to be 37 and coming off injuries and an $8.5 million salary. The only way he’d interest the Orioles is if he remains unsigned for another month and he’ll take a one-year discount deal.

There has been chatter about Myers earlier this off-season, but nothing seemed to solidify. Zambrano was an 18-game winner for the Chicago Cubs in 2007, but he’s had trouble with teammates and management. After an uninspiring season in Miami, the market for Zambrano has been quiet.

Sure, there are lots of other starting pitchers left on the market, but it seems that all roads for the Orioles lead back to Saunders.

He was looking for a three-year deal, and his agents met with Dan Duquette at the Winter Meetings, but after a reported offer from Minnesota, there’s been no follow through.

A year ago, the Orioles considered Saunders, but now they have a history with him. He ended up re-signing with Arizona for one year on Jan. 17.

If Saunders doesn’t make a deal soon, perhaps that  means an Orioles reunion.

NOTE:

Ripken Baseball announced the sale of the Augusta GreenJackets to a local and regional group on Wednesday morning. The sale of the South Atlantic League team leaves Ripken with two minor league teams, the Aberdeen IronBirds and the Port Charlotte Stone Crabs.