D-backs agree to terms with Saunders

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to terms with All-Star left-handed pitcher Joe Saunders on a one-year contract, according to D-backs’ Executive Vice President and General Manager Kevin Towers.

“Joe was an integral part of our success last season and will help stabilize the rotation next season,” said Towers. “We’re confident his veteran leadership, familiarity in the clubhouse and understanding of the culture we’ve built will help us continue working towards a championship.”

Last season, Saunders teamed with Ian Kennedy (21 wins), Daniel Hudson (16) and Josh Collmenter (10) to become the second quartet in team history with at least 10 wins in the same season, joining 1999’s Randy Johnson (17), Omar Daal (16), Andy Benes (13) and Armando Reynoso (10). This season, the quartet will be joined by Trevor Cahill, who posted double-digit wins in each of his three seasons with the Oakland Athletics.

Among all left-handed pitchers since 2008, Saunders ranks first with 106 grounded-into-double-plays induced, tied for fourth with 54 wins, tied for fifth with 128 starts, seventh with 799.1 innings, 10th with a 4.85 run support average, tied for 12th with a .551 winning percentage, 15th with a 1.35 WHIP and 17th with a 4.03 ERA.

Saunders, 30, went 12-13 with a 3.69 ERA (87 ER in 212.0 IP) and a .266 opponents average with 67 walks and 108 strikeouts in a career-high 33 starts last season. Saunders also had 20 quality starts and was one of 39 pitchers, along with Kennedy, Hudson and Cahill, to record at least 20 quality starts last season. Among lefties last season, he ranked tied for second with 33 starts, tied for third with 28 grounded-into-double-plays induced, ninth with 212.0 innings pitched, tied for 11th with 20 quality starts, tied for 14th with a 1.31 WHIP, tied for 16th with a 3.69 ERA and tied for 17th with a .266 opponents average.

Saunders was named the D-backs’ finalist for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet for the community-focused efforts of he and his wife, Shanel, with their Team Saundo program. The annual award recognizes a player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement, and pays tribute to Clemente’s achievements and character by recognizing current players who truly understand the value of helping others.

Over parts of seven Major League seasons with the Angels and D-backs, Saunders is 69-52 with a 4.16 ERA (456 ER in 986.2 IP) and .275 opponents average with 315 walks and 550 strikeouts in 161 career games (all starts), including 6 complete games, a 127 grounded-into-double-plays induced and a 1.37 WHIP. He was selected to the 2008 American League All-Star team.

Saunders was acquired by the D-backs from the Los Angeles Angels on July 25, 2010, along with left-handed pitchers Tyler Skaggs and Patrick Corbin and right-handed pitcher Rafael Rodriguez for right-handed pitcher Dan Haren.

Saunders signed with the Angels as the 12th overall pick in the first round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft.