The Orioles wanted to re-sign left-hander Joe Saunders, who played a significant role in the team's playoff run, but on Thursday evening the 31-year-old reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Seattle Mariners.
Saunders, who was 3-3 with a 3.63 ERA in seven regular season starts with the Orioles, told The Baltimore Sun earlier this offseason that he wanted to return to Baltimore because he wanted to play for a contender while remaining close to home. He grew up in Northern Virginia and attended Virginia Tech.
He gave the Orioles a veteran presence, especially in the postseason, when he threw 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball in the Orioles' 5-1 win at Texas in the American League Wild-Card game. He also allowed just one run over 5 2/3 innings in Game 4 of the AL Division Series in Yankee Stadium.
The Orioles acquired Saunders last August from the Diamondbacks in exchange for reliever Matt Lindstrom.
Saunders was looking for a multi-year deal, but apparently couldn't find it anywhere, choosing to sign with the Mariners, according to a report by FOXSports.com, pending a physical. The Orioles were willing to offer a one-year contract to Saunders.
However, Saunders' numbers in Seattle's Safeco Field might be perfect for a make-good one-year deal. He is 6-0 with a 2.13 ERA in nine career starts at the pitcher-friendly ballpark, which sets him up well for a good season before heading back into free agency.
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