Chris Cotillo is reporting the Royals have signed left-handed pitcher Joe Saunders to a minor league deal and have assigned him to AAA Omaha. The 33-year-old left-hander was released by the Texas Rangers on July 4. Saunders is a ten-year Major League veteran with a 4.35 career ERA. He struggled with the Rangers after signing a minor league deal with them in March, posting a 6.13 ERA in eight starts for them.
The Royals see Saunders as a useful piece for rotation depth. He also could aid their bullpen down the stretch. Low-risk move. No-risk move.— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughStar) July 8, 2014
Saunders has never pitched out of the bullpen in his Major League career, making 229 career starts.He does have a large career split, with a .620 OPS against for lefty hitters, compared to .834 for righties. Lefties this year are hitting .326/.367/.326 against him.
Joe Saunders' best year came in 2008 when he won 17 games with a 3.41 ERA and was named an All-Star. Saunders has pitched for the Angels, Diamondbacks, Orioles, Mariners, and Rangers in his career. Saunders can still hit 90 mph with his fastball although it has been pounded the last five seasons. He also throws a slider, curveball, and changeup as well.