The biggest unknown in the offseason for the Diamondbacks is whether they should tender a contract to Joe Saunders. In 2011, Saunders went 12-13 with a 3.69 ERA in 212 innings while earning a $5.5MM salary. Concern with Saunders being able to repeat his #'s in 2012 is the main reason there is uncertainty with Saunders. With 12 wins and 212 innings, Saunders' salary could exceed $8.5MM, which would be too expensive for the D'Backs Front Office. Using advanced metrics to evaluate Saunders' performance in 2011 shows he had some good luck with a .271 on balls in play, a 1.6 K/BB ratio (4.58 K/9), a 4.78 FIP (4.38 xFIP) while posting a 1.0 WAR season (good for $5MM). At 30, Saunders could be on the decline and non-tendering him may be the logical choice. On the other side of the argument, Saunders did pitch well at the end of the season at posted good #'s overall. I would non-tender Joe Saunders because his salary is getting too expensive for the production he brings.
If the D'Backs do indeed non-tender Joe Saunders, these are the best in-house options to replace him-
- Wade Miley- Miley throws a 90-94 mph Fastball with sink, a 77-79 mph Curveball, a 80-82 mph Slider, and a 78-82 mph Change-up. Miley throws from the left side and posts similar #'s to Saunders, except for the $450K league minimum. Miley has experience in the starting rotation, starting 6 games for the Diamondbacks in 2011.
- Jarrod Parker- In his only regular season start in the majors, Parker blanked the Dodgers for 5 2/3 innings with 1 K and 1 BB. Parker throws a Fastball (92-96mph), Curveball (76-80mph), Slider (80-83mph), Change-up (81-84mph), and Sinker (90-92mph).
- Trevor Bauer- Bauer is the organization's 1st round pick in 2011 (3rd overall) and is already in AA. Bauer has only made 9 starts in the minors, with 6 amazing and 3 horrible starts. With the inconsistently he has shown in his last 4 starts in AA, it can be a turn-off for the D'Backs to keep Bauer at the Major League Level after Spring.