D-backs deal Saunders to Orioles for reliever


PHOENIX —
Joe Saunders knew Saturday night he had

been traded but didn’t know where he was headed until Sunday

morning.

The Diamondbacks announced early Sunday they

had traded Saunders and cash considerations to the Baltimore Orioles in

exchange for right-handed reliever Matt Lindstrom and either cash

considerations or a player to be named

later.

Saunders said Sunday he was told Saturday

night that he had been dealt but that the location couldn’t be disclosed

yet. Saunders was happy to hear it was Baltimore, where he’ll jump into

a playoff race not far from his hometown of Springfield,

Va.

“I’m excited,” Saunders said. “I was excited to

get traded to a playoff-contender team. They’re in the hunt right now,

so it’s going to be exciting. And all my family’s from there, so I get

to go closer to home.”

The Orioles entered Sunday

tied with the Athletics for the second wild-card spot in the American

League. Saunders said the trade was easier to handle because it did not

come as a surprise given the promotion and strong start of left-hander

Tyler Skaggs.

“As soon as we went to a six-man

rotation, I pretty much figured I had a few more days here,” Saunders

said. “It’s definitely easier when you have an inkling you’re getting

traded than when it comes way out of left field.”

In

21 starts with the D-backs this season, Saunders was 6-10 with a 4.22

ERA. He was scratched from his Sunday start and replaced by Trevor

Cahill.

Trading Saunders became more feasible after

Skaggs’ strong outing last Wednesday. The D-backs rotation now features

three rookies in Skaggs, Patrick Corbin and Wade Miley and only two

pitchers — Cahill and Ian Kennedy — who started the year in the

rotation.

“A lot of (the trade) had to do with the

young pitching we had,” D-backs general manager Kevin Towers said. “We

talked about going to a six-man rotation. We’d rather stick with five to

keep guys on normal rest.

“We’re always trying to

add to the (bullpen) if we can. We got a guy that throws up to 100 (mph)

to go with the back of our ‘pen.”

Lindstrom, 32,

primarily throws a sinker and a slider. In his last outing Friday, the

sinker topped out just under 95 mph. It routinely sits between 93 and 96

mph.

“He’s another right-handed power arm,” D-backs

manager Kirk Gibson said. “He’s got some experience here in the (NL)

West as well. We’re pretty familiar with him, and you can see we like

power arms in our bullpen, so he’ll be a good

addition.”

Lindstrom reached the majors in 2007 with

the Marlins and stayed there for three seasons. He was traded to the

Astros before the 2010 season, to the Rockies before the 2011 season and

then to the Orioles before this season. In 34 relief appearances this

year, Lindstrom is 1-0 with a 2.72 ERA.

The D-backs

can exercise a team option on Lindstrom’s contract to keep him for next

season. Saunders, meanwhile, will be a free agent at the end of the

season. That only played a small part in the trade, though, as the

D-backs simply decided it was time to start the clock on Skaggs’ big

league career.

“The way Tyler threw the ball the

other day, that’s a guy I’d like to see out there every fifth day,”

Towers said. “We think it’s going to be great for his development. We’re

still in a pennant race here, and we’re going up against some good

teams in the NL West. That’s only going to help him and guys like Corbin

that don’t have extended time up here going into the 2013

season.”