The Arizona Diamondbacks finally got the veteran pitcher they spent all offseason looking for and it turns out it was the guy they knew best. According to multiple reports, the D-backs agreed to a one-year deal with veteran pitcher Joe Saunders worth $6 million.
The D-backs flirted with all kinds of options to fill out a rotation that will rival anything this side of Philadelphia. From Hiroki Kuroda to Mark Buehrle to the recent rebuffed advances towards Bartolo Colon, GM Kevin Towers has searched high and low for the stable presence to add to a rotation made up of youngsters Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Trevor Cahill and Josh Collmenter.
According to Nick Piecoro, the D-backs ownership signed off on paying Saunders and with the other moves the team has made, notably the free agent signing of OF Jason Kubel, the payroll will be an estimated $80 million this season. Last year's team salary was about $53.6 million.
Saunders recorded an ERA of 3.69 last season and pitched 212 innings.
The decision will make it harder for the group of young arms waiting in the wings to get a shot at the show. Pat Corbin, Tyler Skaggs, Trevor Bauer, Wade Miley, and Charles Brewer will all have to work to prove themselves in Spring Training and then wait their turn. If one or more of the youngsters prove ready, the D-backs can always look to trade Saunders or one of the prospects for other valuable assets.
In the mean time, too much pitching depth is a good problem to have. This team certainly has come a long way in a short time thanks to Towers and the savvy moved made by then interim GM Jerry Dipoto in 2010.
The 2012 Diamondbacks will enter the season with all the pieces in place from last year's NL West title team. In addition, they have a solidified rotation that includes an immediate upgrade with Cahill and a host of young arms waiting their turn. The offense is stronger with the addition of Kubel to the middle of the order and the bullpen has been beefed up with veteran middle inning guys Takashi Saito and Craig Breslow.
For more on the (still unofficial) deal, visit AZ Snake Pit.