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.”