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.