The Arizona Diamondbacks traded shortstop Stephen Drew on Monday night, saving at least $3.3 million without compromising the team’s chances of staying in contention.
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Could the D-backs be plotting a similar move with left-hander Joe Saunders?
The D-backs placed Saunders on trade waivers Tuesday, according to major-league sources. And just as the team had a ready replacement for Drew, with shortstop Willie Bloomquist nearly set to return from the disabled list, it has a potential replacement for Saunders.
That replacement would be Triple A left-hander Tyler Skaggs, who will make his major-league debut for the D-backs on Wednesday in the first game of a double-header against Miami.
Skaggs, 21, is 4-2 with a 2.91 ERA in nine starts at Triple A, but his ERA was a mere 1.70 before he struggled in his most recent outing, allowing eight runs in five innings.
If the D-backs traded Saunders, they simply could keep Skaggs into their rotation, which also includes right-handers Trevor Cahill and Ian Kennedy and two other rookie lefties, Wade Miley and Patrick Corbin.
Saunders, 6-10 with a 4.22 ERA, is owed just under $1.5 million for the rest of the season, after which he will become a free agent.
He will be on waivers until 1 p.m. ET Thursday, and could be claimed by a team in need of starting pitching — or a team seeking to block another contender from adding him. If Saunders clears waivers, the Diamondbacks can trade him to any club.
The Baltimore Orioles have shown the most consistent interest in Saunders, sources say. The Diamondbacks, like most clubs, are expected to place most of their players on trade waivers before the Aug. 31 deadline for setting post-season rosters.