Joe Saunders headed to Rangers

Updated: March 5, 2014, 11:09 AM ET
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com

It appears there is another pitcher set to compete for a spot in the Texas Rangers' rotation.

The Rangers and left-hander Joe Saunders have agreed to terms on a one-year, nonguaranteed major league deal, the team announced Wednesday. 

The deal is likely to be structured similarly to that of Tommy Hanson, who already is in the camp and vying for a job as a starter.

A group of Rangers representatives watched Saunders throw last week and were pleased with how he looked.

Saunders, 32, struggled last season with the Seattle Mariners, going 11-16 with a 5.26 ERA in 183 innings (32 starts). He did have a career-best ground ball rate last season, but the ERA was the highest of his career. The Rangers are hoping Saunders can revert to the guy who had a 3.86 ERA in the 2011 and 2012 seasons. That would give them a viable option at the back end of the rotation.

Texas continues to look for starting pitching depth in light of the knee injury and subsequent surgery for Derek Holland that will have him out until midseason and also because Matt Harrison won't be ready to start the season as back tightness has him behind in his throwing program.

Colby Lewis continues to progress from hip surgery but isn't throwing as many innings yet as the rest of the pitchers in camp and is adjusting to a longer stride, which means his mechanics are a work in progress.

So with questions hovering about the rotation, the Rangers wanted to add some depth.

Saunders has just three starts at Globe Life Park in Arlington the past four seasons and is 1-2 with a 4.42 ERA, allowing 26 hits in 18 1/3 innings. He did have a memorable postseason start in Arlington, holding the Rangers to one run on six hits in 5 2/3 innings and beating Yu Darvish in Baltimore's 5-1 American League wild-card game win in 2012.

He joins a gaggle of starting-job seekers, including Hanson, Michael Kirkman, Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers and Nick Tepesch.

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