D-backs deal Saunders to Orioles for reliever

D-backs send Saunders to Orioles for hard-throwing reliever Lindstrom, opening rotation spot for Skaggs.

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."