D'Backs could non-tender Joe Saunders this winter

In his column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo says LHP Joe Saunders could be projected to earn “in the high-$5 million range” through arbitration this winter, and given how he hasn’t lived up to expectations, the Diamondbacks might decide to non-tender him.

In 33 starts for Arizona in 2011, the 30 year old Saunders went 12-13 with a 3.69 ERA in 33 starts and 212 innings, allowing 210 hits and 67 walks and 29 home runs. He is entering his third year of arbitration, and he just completed a one-year, $5.5 million contract he signed with Arizona last January.

Michael Baron: Saunders isn’t going to “wow” anyone with his stuff, but he’s proven to be a durable and steady left handed pitcher who could be a fit, should the Diamondbacks non-tender him next month. He usually sits in the upper 80s to low 90s with his fastball and off-sets that with a good tailing change-up. He pitches to contact and gives up a lot of home runs, but a move to a more pitcher-friendly park would probably reduce that number.

I could see him as a possible upgrade to Chris Capuano as someone who can fill a back-of-the-rotation slot, although I wonder if he would be seeking a multi-year deal should he and the Diamondbacks part ways. Then again, he’s one year from free agency, and so he might be looking to establish a higher market value heading into next winter.

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In addition, Cafardo says Cubs GM Theo Epstein will listen to offers for RHP Matt Garza and “just about anyone on his team” in an effort to re-stock their farm system.