BY SPNW Staff 04:52PM 02/12/2013

Mariners Sign Joe Saunders, Designate Mike Carp

In addition to agreeing with Felix Hernandez on a seven-year, $175 million deal Tuesday, the club signed LHP starting pitcher Joe Saunders to a one-year contract and a mutual option for 2014. The deal is reportedly worth $7 million. To make room for Saunders on the 40-man roster, the Mariners designated for assignment 1B/DH Mike Carp, and have 10 days to trade, release or outright him to the minor leagues.

The Mariners also signed another veteran free agent, right-handed reliever Kameron Loe, 31, to a minor league contract. He pitched in 70 games for Milwaukee in 2012.

The 31-year-old Saunders combined to go 9-13 with a 4.07 ERA in 28 starts last year with the Arizona Diamondbacks (21 GS) and Baltimore Orioles (seven GS). He made two postseason starts for the Orioles, going 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA (2 ER, 11.1 IP). He was the starting and winning pitcher in the Orioles’ one-game wild card playoff win at Texas (5.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 SO).

In eight seasons with the Angels (2005-2010), Diamondbacks (2010-2012) and Orioles (2012), Saunders is 78-65 with a 4.15 ERA in 189 career starts. Since 2008, Saunders has been one of the more dependable starting lefties, ranking sixth in games started (156), sixth in wins (63) and seventh in innings pitched (974.0).

Over the last five seasons, Saunders has averaged 13 wins, 31 starts and 195.0 innings per season (63-57, 156 GS, 974 IP).

Saunders owns a 6-0 career record with a 2.13 ERA (13 ER, 55.0 IP) in nine starts at Safeco Field. Over his last eight Safeco starts (since 2008), he is 6-0, 1.19 ERA (7 ER, 53.0 IP).

A Springfield, VA., native was selected by the Angels in the first round (12th overall) of the 2002 June draft out of Virginia Tech University.

Saunders will wear No. 23 when the Mariners take the field for the first spring training workout Wednesday in Peoria, AZ.

Carp, 26, appeared in 173 games over four seasons with the Mariners (2009-2012). He combined to bat .255 (139×545) with 28 doubles, two triples and 18 home runs. He was acquired by Seattle from New York (NL) in a three-team, 12-player trade Dec. 10, 2008.

Loe went 6-5 with two saves and a 4.61 ERA (35 ER, 68.1 IP) in 70 relief appearances. In 2011 he posted a 3.50 ERA in 72 relief appearances, and pitched in five games during the Brewers postseason run to the National League Championship Series.

The 6-8, 245-pound native of Simi Valley, Calif., pitched for the Rangers (2004-2008) and  Brewers (2010-2012). He also played one season in Japan. Loe has combined to go 32-40, 4.36 ERA in 302 appearances (47 starts). With the Brewers he made 142 relief appearances (72 in ’11, 70 in ’12), tied for 11th-most amongst National League relievers.

In addtion to the 40-man roster, the Mariners have invited 21 players to spring training, including 13 pitchers (11 RHP, two LHP), four catchers and  four infielders.


  • Big

    Man, I liked Mike Carp. Is he injuried? Shoulder?

  • jafabian

    Didn’t have a good year last year and there’s already 1B/DH types on the roster with Smoak, Morales, Morse and Peguero. He needs to dominate at AAA to get back on the roster. But right now he’s the one with options.

    • art thiel

      Good answer. He is reported to be healthy. But Carp has never seized his chances. Which means he’ll go to another club, star, and, Morse-like, be brought back for treasure.

  • despondent m’s fan

    I liked Carp too. He was the best first baseman on the roster when he played full time. Look at his numbers and the teams numbers two years ago when Smoak was hurt and he played first base. But Smoak is the ‘golden boy’ so he gets to continue flailing even though Carp out performed him. Same thing with Jaso, all he did was perform in the clutch and now he’s going to thrive in Oakland. I hope Carp ends up there too and gets an all star nod. Jack Z reminds me a lot of those megalomaniac scouts portrayed in moneyball.

    • art thiel

      Wouldn’t say Smoak is golden, but he will get a final chance in ’13 because he was the prize in the Cliff Lee deal. He had a bad swing in Texas and still has it here. Carp definitely had his moments, but nothing that said he would become a fixture.

  • maqman

    I liked Carp too but he was just the odd man out. If they kept him they would have had to cut a younger prospect probably and even if he hit well where would they play him? They would have had to possibly ship Smoak to Tacoma or sit Morales, Morse or maybe Montero to get him in the lineup.

  • RadioGuy

    Carp was the odd man out. Too many 1B/OF/DH types on the roster already, including quite a few who’ve had success above AAA. After four years in the organization, Jack Z knows what Carp can and can’t do. Who was he going to play ahead of?

    I hope Mike does well elsewhere, but the numbers game got him in Seattle. If the organization had confidence in him, they wouldn’t have traded for Morse and Morales nor signed Ibanez or Bay.