The Kansas City Royals have signed 33-year-old southpaw Joe Saunders to a minor league deal, per a team announcement. He will head directly to Triple-A Omaha, where he will serve as added rotation depth.
Saunders signed a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers in March, and he made eight ineffective starts (6.13 ERA, 1.10 K/BB) before being released over the weekend. He also made four starts at Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock this year, combining to allow nine earned runs in 21.2 innings while walking seven and striking out four.
Saunders posted a 5.26 ERA and 4.72 FIP in 183 innings with the Mariners in 2013, and Seattle chose not to retain him over the offseason. An All-Star in 2008, Saunders enjoyed his best stretch from 2007 to 2011 with the Angels and Diamondbacks (after being acquired in 2010's Dan Haren trade). In 146 starts over that period, the left-hander put up a 4.08 ERA (104 ERA+) and 4.66 FIP while averaging a 1.6 WAR. Saunders was originally selected 12th overall by the Angels in the 2002 draft.