The Texas Rangers are on the lookout for starting pitching depth, and it's easy to see why. Projected No. 2 starter Derek Holland is out until at least midseason, and his replacement, Matt Harrison, is battling back from multiple back surgeries and won't be ready to go for the Rangers' opening series against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Rangers already brought in one veteran arm on a minor-league deal this winter in former Angels and Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson, and so far, the reports on Hanson have been relatively positive. But they could always use more depth in their injury- and question-riddled rotation, and now they could be on the verge of another minor-league deal with a veteran arm.
The Rangers worked out veteran lefty Joe Saunders on Wednesday while also being linked to interest in Kansas City free agent Ervin Santana, who remains unsigned. Saunders has been historically bad in Arlington over his career, but was very good in a 2012 AL Wild Card Game win over the Rangers when he was pitching for the Baltimore Orioles.
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In Seattle last year, Saunders went 11-16 with a 5.26 ERA in 32 starts, which is not a good year by any means. But Saunders has been much better than that in previous years with ERAs in the 3s and a career mark of 4.30.
The likelihood of the Rangers signing Saunders isn't known at the moment, but if they get enough of these type guys into camp, you have to figure one or two might pan out. It looks like Colby Lewis is going to. Hanson has been met with positive reviews so far, and Saunders could only add to competition for the back end of the rotation. So why not bring him in on an incentive-based minor-league deal? Couldn't hurt, right?