Mar 5 2014, 7:41pm CST | by Poch de la Rosa
"Hoping to stabilize some of the uncertainty surrounding the back end of the Rangers' rotation this spring, the club added another veteran arm Wednesday to its pool of starting pitcher candidates as Texas announced the signing of free-agent left-hander Joe Saunders to a one-year major league contract.
"'He's a gamer,' manager Ron Washington said. 'He'll be a guy that keeps us in the ballgame.'
"The move comes nearly three weeks after the Rangers inked right-hander Tommy Hanson to a similar deal, which guarantees a base salary plus bonuses if he makes the team. CBS Sports reported that Saunders will make $500,000 initially and $1.5 million should he break camp with the Rangers."
Saunders is coming off what is arguably his worst season as a pro. He posted an 11-16 win-loss record with a 5.26 ERA in 32 starts for the Seattle Mariners in the 2013 MLB season. Nonetheless, he has proven to be durable as he has started in at least 28 games every year since 2008, per Emerick.
With this, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels told Emerick that Saunders should be able to provide some much-needed stability to their rotation.
"I think we're in a good spot now with our depth. We have legitimately seven, eight or nine major-league candidates depending on what we want to do with Robbie (Ross) and Tanner (Scheppers). We'll let it all play out, but I'm confident we can put together a championship-caliber rotation out of this group -- not to mention when Matt (Harrison) and Derek (Holland) are coming back."
Emerick points out Saunders will compete for one of the two remaining spots on the Rangers' rotation which currently features Yu Darvish, Martin Perez and Alexi Ogando. The other aspirants for the two starting spots are Colby Lewis, Ross and Nick Tepesch.
The number of players competing for a spot in the rotation was made possible by the injuries of Holland and Harrison. Emerick says the former "will miss multiple months of the season" while the latter is due to report in mid-April at the very earliest.
Scheppers was mentioned as a potential starter, but he's likely to stay in the Rangers' bullpen.
"I feel like I'm right on track.
"I love the ballpark. I think it was more of a factor of the lineup than the ballpark. It's nice to be able to get on the good side of things."
For his career, the 32-year-old Saunders is 89-81 with a 4.30 ERA in stints with the Los Angeles Angels, Arizona Diamondbacks, Baltimore Orioles and Mariners, according to The Associated Press (via Yahoo! Sports).
Outfielder Alex Castellanos was designated for assignment in order to accommodate Saunders on Texas' 40-man roster.
Poch de la Rosa
Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.
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