LHP Joe Saunders and Rangers finalize one-year contract
SURPRISE, Ariz. — Joe Saunders was the opposing pitcher who helped end the Texas Rangers’ last playoff appearance two seasons ago.
Now the veteran left-hander will get a chance to earn a spot in the Texas rotation after finalizing a one-year contract that guarantees him the $500,000 minimum.
Saunders’s salary would increase to $1.5 million if he makes the team. He can earn performance bonuses in addition to his salary under the deal completed Tuesday.
With injured lefty Derek Holland expected to be out at least half the season after knee surgery, Saunders joined the team in Arizona on Wednesday to provide another potential starting option.
"I feel like I’m right on track," said Saunders, who had been throwing bullpen sessions on his own.
Saunders has an 89-81 career record with a 4.30 ERA in 221 games, all starts with the Los Angeles Angels (2005-10), Arizona (2010-12), Baltimore (2012) and Seattle (2013). The 32-year-old lefty was 11-16 with a career-high 5.26 ERA in 32 starts last season before Seattle declined his 2014 option.
In the 2012 AL wild-card game at Texas, Saunders allowed one run over 5 2-3 innings in Baltimore’s 5-1 victory over Texas.
Before that playoff victory, Saunders had lost his six previous starts and had a 9.38 ERA in games in Texas. He was 1-1 with a 6.35 ERA there in two starts for Seattle last season when he allowed 19 hits and nine runs in 11 1-3 innings.
"I love the ballpark. I think it was more a factor of the lineup than the ballpark," Saunders said. "It’s nice to be able to get on the good side of things."
Infielder-outfielder Alex Castellanos was designated for assignment to make room on the Rangers’ major league roster.
The Rangers have 10 days to trade, release or outright Castellanos to the minor leagues. He was claimed on waivers from Boston in December and was 3 for 9 in five games this spring training.