Mariners sign pitchers Saunders, Garland, Loe

Los Angeles Dodgers v New York MetsThe big news out of Mariners camp today was obviously the announcement of Felix Hernandez’s contract extension, but some other interesting developments emerged today regarding other pitching candidates.

As pitchers and catchers reported to camp Tuesday, the club announced the signing of three veteran arms — Jon Garland (right) and Kameron Loe to Minor League deals with camp invites and lefty Joe Saunders to a Major League deal for 2013 with a mutual option for 2014 as well.

To make room for Saunders on the 40-man roster, first baseman/outfielder Mike Carp was designated for assignment and I’d expect him to get traded within the next 10 days.

Saunders figures to be an integral part of the rotation as the southpaw replacement for Jason Vargas, a veteran innings-eater who pitched well down the stretch for the Orioles last year. He’ll make $6.5 million this coming year.

As for the two non-roster additions, Garland’s arrival was expected, with the right-hander signing off on his deal after completing his physical as he attempts to come back from a 19-month layoff following rotator cuff surgery.

But Loe’s presence wasn’t leaked prior to Tuesday and he presents an interesting — and large — option to the Mariners bullpen. At 6-foot-8, 245 pounds, he’s a towering figure. And as a guy who threw in 70 and 72 games the past two years for the Brewers, he’s a workhorse reliever with some strong experience, including five postseason appearances in 2011.

Loe’s addition makes it clearer why the Mariners designated Shawn Kelley for assignment last week, as he joins returning right-handers Tom Wilhelmsen, Josh Kinney, Stephen Pryor and Carter Capps in a bullpen competition that also includes lefties Charlie Furbush, Lucas Luetge and Oliver Perez.

Garland is an interesting case as well as he said he’s 100 percent recovered from shoulder surgery that sidelined him the past year and a half. And if that’s true, he could certainly help a staff that has Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Saunders as its lone veterans.

Garland, 33, owns a career record of 132-119 with a 4.32 ERA over 12 seasons in the Majors. Prior to his shoulder injury, he was a durable starter who averaged 205 innings a year from 2002-10, never threw less than 191 innings in nine straight seasons and was an American League All-Star in 2005.

“I know what I have to go out and do,” Garland said. “The No. 1 thing is stay healthy and just try to get back to what I’m capable of doing, going out and giving a big-league team an opportunity to win a ballgame. The rest is in their hands. I can’t force them to do anything.

“There were some pretty good options out there [in free agency], but when I looked at it on paper I felt I had a really good opportunity here with this team. They’re definitely making some good moves in the right direction and I’d like to be part of that.”

1 Comment

welcome to the team – go M’s

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