Hot Stove Talk: Joe Saunders

February, 26, 2014
Feb 26
11:14
PM CT
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Texas Rangers worked out Joe Saunders on Wednesday, a source confirmed, as the club continues to look into pitching options.

Of course, working out Saunders and signing a contract are two different things and we'll see if this leads to anything. But as we've done all offseason with players that are of interest to the Rangers, let's take a brief look at Saunders.

The left-hander, who started the AL wild-card game in 2012 and beat the Rangers in Arlington that night as a member of the Orioles, was 11-16 with a 5.26 ERA in 183 innings (32 starts) with the Mariners.

He had a career-best ground ball rate last season, but the ERA was the highest – by far – of his career. But his career ERA is 4.30 and his ERA was 3.86 over the 2011 and 2012 season, so Saunders has pitched much better than last year.

Saunders has just three starts at Globe Life Park in Arlington the past four seasons and is 1-2 with a 4.42 ERA. He's given up 26 hits in those 18 1/3 innings. That does not include his solid showing in the AL wild-card game, in which he gave up one run on six hits in 5 2/3 innings in the 5-1 Baltimore win.

Why he makes sense: If he can show that he’s closer to the guy whose career ERA is a run lower than what he posted in 2013, he could be a viable option. This is a team still looking for any and all possibilities to compete for the final rotation spots. And with a full Cactus League season left, things could still happen to alter the course of the rotation.

Why he doesn’t make sense: Saunders is coming off struggles in 2013 and if it’s uncertain as to whether he’s back in form, is he a better option than what the Rangers currently have in camp?

The club is sorting through those questions before deciding if Saunders is worth a contract and an invitation to spring training.
Richard Durrett joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He writes about colleges, the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers. Richard spent nine years at The Dallas Morning News covering the Rangers, Stars, colleges, motorsports and high schools.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Yu Darvish
WINS ERA SO IP
9 2.92 159 126
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .324
HRA. Beltre 15
RBIA. Beltre 55
RA. Beltre 53
OPSA. Beltre .888
ERAY. Darvish 2.92
SOY. Darvish 159