Pirates rumors: Bucs were interested in Joe Saunders

Al Bello

Joe Saunders reportedly was targeted by the Pittsburgh Pirates, but after signing Francisco Liriano to a two-year deal, the Pirates aren't believed to be pursuing Saunders any longer.

Neal Huntington and the Pittsburgh Pirates front office were reportedly interested in signing free agent left-handed pitcher Joe Saunders according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

Saunders spent the 2012 season pitching for both the Arizona Diamondbacks and Baltimore Orioles. Saunders finished the season with 174 and 2/3 innings, while striking out 112 and walking just 39. Saunders finished the year with a 9-13 record, 4.07 ERA and 1.34 WHIP.

Though he's not an ace, Saunders has been a consistent innings-eater throughout his career, logging at least 174 and 2/3 innings each of the last five seasons.

However, after signing Francisco Liriano to a two-year deal, Rosenthal believes that the Pirates are now out of the Saunders race. The Orioles, Padres and Mariners remain interested in the left handed starter.

While Saunders is more consistent than Liriano, it's clear that Liriano provides a much higher upside than Saunders. Liriano was dominant as recent as 2010, when he struck out 9.44 batters per nine innings, with a 3.62 ERA and 2.66 FIP for the Minnesota Twins in 191 and 2/3 innings.

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