Joe Saunders is suddenly a free agent. The Arizona Diamondbacks declined to offer Saunders salary arbitration by the Monday night deadline and so he has been set free, MLB.com reports.
Saunders went 12-13 last season with 103 strikeouts and a 3.69 ERA. Last week the team had offered him a two-year contract "believed to be in the $12 million range," the site notes, and Saunders made a counteroffer. But the sides were too far apart and the team traded for Trevor Cahill from the Oakland Athletics on Friday. Cahill went 12-14 with a 4.16 ERA and 147 strikeouts for the A's last season.
If the Diamondbacks had kept Saunders, they would have had to pay him between $8.5 million and $9 million this season, MLB.com notes.
While Saunders can now explore the open market, it is still possible that he'll return to Arizona. "I don't think it precludes us from bringing either player back," D-backs assistant general manager Billy Ryan said, according to MLB.com. "We communicated to them that we are still open to dialogue and encouraged them to keep the lines of communication open."