The holdup on Saunders

Before I tackle the blog topic of the day, I wanted to pass along that I heard late last night that manager Buck Showalter’s contract extension will cover three years, extending his commitment to the Orioles through the 2016 season.

No real surprise here. I think three years was the expected length.

The announcement is still likely to come early next week. And then we can get on with our lives.

Meanwhile, the Orioles are looking for another veteran starting pitcher and Joe Saunders is looking for a big payday.

Is there really a match here?

Saunders went into free agency seeking a four-year contract, and all signs point to him holding firm on a three-year deal. Other teams reportedly in the hunt for Saunders include the Mariners, Padres, Mets, and Twins.

We heard about the Twins making an offer back at the Winter Meetings. Saunders clearly is in no hurry to choose.

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette has remained in contact with Saunders’ agent, but it’s hard to imagine the club offering three years. They won’t have to surrender their first-round pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, but ... three years?

Saunders went 3-3 with a 3.63 ERA in seven starts with the Orioles after being acquired from the Diamondbacks on Aug. 26 for reliever Matt Lindstrom. He allowed two runs in 11 1/3 innings over two playoff starts and was credited with the win in the wild card game in Texas, further endearing him to the organization.

But ... three years?

Then again, compared to some of the other deals handed out to pitchers this winter, Saunders may be a bargain. It depends how you look at it.

The Orioles don’t view Saunders as a top-of-the-rotation starter, though the opening day assignment won’t be given to anyone during the first day of camp. Slotting will come later.

The last time Saunders tested the free-agent waters, he signed a one-year, $6 million contract with the Diamondbacks in January 2012. The Orioles made a strong push for him and came up empty.

They’d like to keep him in 2013, which would provide more pitching depth for an organization that’s always seeking more of it, or perhaps make it easier for Duquette to trade a few arms for a bat. But is Saunders worth the type of commitment he’s seeking?

Your thoughts?

Shameless plug alert: I’m appearing on “Wall to Wall Baseball” from 11 a.m.-noon on MASN.

Shameless plug alert II: Then it’s “Hot Stove Baseball” from 1:30-3 p.m. on WBAL Radio. Former Orioles shortstop and current MASN analyst Mike Bordick will join us in studio from 2-2:30 p.m. Pitcher Miguel Gonzalez and outfielder Nate McLouth will call into the show.

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