PHOENIX -- The D-backs continued their youth movement in their rotation Sunday, trading veteran left-hander Joe Saunders to the Orioles in exchange for relief pitcher Matt Lindstrom. The move made room for highly regarded lefty Tyler Skaggs to start every fifth day, so that Arizona did not have to use a six-man rotation.
"We had six starters and with our young guys developing and performing here, we felt this was the correct move," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "We're going to keep Tyler in the rotation, just give him an exposure to the situation we are in, in a pennant race, that'll do him well for next year as well."
With Skaggs joining Patrick Corbin and Wade Miley, the D-backs now have three rookies in their rotation to go along with top prospects Trevor Bauer and Archie Bradley, who are making strides in the Minors.
"We like the young pitching," D-backs General Manager Kevin Towers said. "There weren't enough slots for everybody. It would've been virtually impossible to get them the starts that they need."
Saunders, who was the eldest pitcher in the D-backs' rotation by four years, is slated to become a free-agent at the end of this season. His impending availability on the open market as well as the slew of young arms the D-backs possess made Saunders expendable moving forward.
"As soon as we went to a six-man rotation, I kind of figured I had a few more days here," Saunders said. "It was definitely easier when you know you're getting traded than when it comes out of left field. This was a little easier to deal with and it made more sense for both sides."
The 31-year-old Virginia native was originally scheduled to start Sunday's series finale for the D-backs against the Padres, but instead he will head cross-country to join his new team, located less than two hours from where he grew up.
"I was an O's fan growing up, I went to a lot of their games when I was a kid," Saunders said. "I'm excited to get traded to a playoff contending team, they are in the hunt right now so it's going to be exciting. Plus my family is from there so I'll get to go closer to home. It's going to be exciting to hang out with them more and they'll get a chance to see me pitch more."
Saunders was 6-10 with a 4.22 ERA in 21 starts with the D-backs in 2012. Overall, in two-plus seasons in Arizona after being traded from Anaheim, the lefty went 21-30 with a 3.96 ERA.
Saunders couldn't pinpoint what has gone wrong with the D-backs this season, but admitted this campaign has had a different feel to it from last year's division title effort.
"As soon as we got three or four in a row, we couldn't get over the hump like we did last year," Saunders said. "Maybe it's just as simple as the magic wasn't here this year. We had a lot of energy last year, we fed off it. We couldn't really put it together this year. That being said, this team now is still not out of it. I wouldn't say they are throwing away all their cards now."
As for Lindstrom, the D-backs are receiving a 32-year-old with plenty of experience in the National League. Before posting a 2.72 ERA in 36 1/3 innings with Baltimore this season, Lindstrom pitched the first five years of his career in the NL. His fastball consistently touches the upper 90's.
"He's a power arm and he's got some experience in the West," Gibson said. "We're familiar with him. We like power arms in our bullpen, it's a big addition in that aspect."
Lindstrom, who has played with four teams over his five year career, unsurprisingly already knows a few of his new teammates in Arizona.
"They have up and coming young stars and stuff like that," he said. "I'm looking forward to playing with those guys, I was with J.J. Putz on Team USA. I know Aaron Hill a little bit. Chris Johnson, with Houston in 2010. So, seems like I've been around the block a little bit now with being traded. But I'm looking forward to playing with those guys. I'm looking forward to competing in the next chapter of my career."
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.