After talking to several free-agent pitchers, the D-backs then circled back to Saunders last week after general manager Kevin Towers had a positive talk with Saunders' agent, Greg Genske, while Towers was in the Dominican Republic.
"[Genske] reiterated that Joe still had interest in Arizona," Towers said. "Joe had a great experience in Arizona and he'd just bought a home here, and he said if all things were close to being equal, he'd stay in Arizona.
"He said that's where he wanted to be."
That left it to Towers, who after a busy offseason was already pushing the budget for the upcoming season, to go to management to see if there was room for Saunders, who made 33 starts last season for the 94-win D-backs and tossed 212 innings.
Management said yes.
"The credit goes to [managing general partner] Ken Kendrick and [president and CEO] Derrick Hall," Towers said. "They definitely extended themselves to bring in a veteran pitcher like Joe. It all worked out well. He's happy, we're happy."
The move likely allowed the D-backs to complete their starting rotation, as Saunders fits in with newly acquired righty Trevor Cahill as well as Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson and Josh Collmenter.
"We've got four guys who have logged 200-plus innings," Towers said.
The move might well have been the last of a busy offseason for Towers and the D-backs, who have added Cahill and reliever Craig Breslow from the A's in a trade as well as the free-agent signing of outfielder Jason Kubel.
The team made a handful of other moves, signing reliever Takashi Saito, re-signing its second baseman, Aaron Hill, and adding to the bench by re-signing Willie Bloomquist, Henry Blanco, John McDonald and Lyle Overbay.
"I feel like we have depth in all areas," Towers said. "We feel like we're a better ballclub then we were in 2011."