I am trying to look at this from Joe Saunder's perspective...
Obviously I do not know how the winter meetings will shake out but as is now the team has Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tillman, Zach Britton, Tommy Hunter, Dana Eveland and yes even Steve Johnson
that it can consider as options for the 2013 rotation. I count nine bodies right there.
OK Britton, Matusz are Lefties (under-performing or not), still young and way fewer innings pitched than Saunders. Come June Saunders will be 32. Not a death sentence or end of his career age. However, even most of the really good ones decline at that point. I keep thinking that he is going to want a nice payday. Maybe the Orioles will try, but I suspect that they won't. I do consider Joe Saunders a legit #3 or #4 SP certainly. But for how long? The man is going to get attractive offers on the open market and do you want to lock up money for 3-4 years to keep him? I just do not see it happening.
Yes, he could end up rejecting a minor league assignment. However, don't you think that he and his family would prefer to not be a part of an uncertain logjam in the Orioles rotation?Jake Arrieta
and Brian Matusz have been the team's biggest disappointments. However, I do not see the team parting with both unless the return in a trade is something really significant. By the time the winter meetings take place I think he will already have signed elsewhere. If these two were not part of the equation it might not be such a tough sell to this or any similar player. However, here it is and they do play a part in it.
*Last Note on the subject of depth*
Last season the team used 12 different starting pitchers. There is a solid chance the team could actually surpass that number next season (I really hope its a fewer though). While depth is great for the team it does somewhat hurt them when it comes to signing free agents.