I took some flak in my last post for suggesting the Mariners should consider signing Luke Hochevar. On the surface his 8-16 record and 5.73 ERA would not be a fit for a team that has not made the playoffs in over a decade. However, looking at some of his stats, Hochevar does make some sense for the Mariners. In my opinion, if he is non-tendered by the Royals, he seems to be a perfect fit for Safeco Field and worth a low priced gamble.
Here’s five things to consider.
- Safeco Field is a pitchers park. This is unlikely to change by moving in the fences next season. According to MLBTradeRumors.com’s Non-Tender Candidate series, Hochevar had a 43.6% ground ball rate in 2012. He struck out a league average 6.9 K/9 IP, while averaging 3.0 BB/9 IP.
- This would allow the Mariners to protect their investment in the “Big Three”, considering Paxton is not traded and how much credence there is in the trade rumors linking him to the Royals. As fans we should hope not to have Kerry Wood or Mark Prior type injuries to the young core. If they flame out because they can’t get big league hitters out that would be better than never knowing because of injury. Just my thinking.
- As a non-tender candidate, Hochevar would come cheap with the possibility of a high reward. No one figured in 1996 that Jamie Moyer would be such a good pick up. In recent history, Oliver Perez was seen as an experiment. He paid off in the M’s bullpen in 2012. My suggestion, pick up Hochevar at a one year incentive laden deal with a 2014 option. If he doesn’t work out then the M’s wouldn’t be out much if they decided to later trade him or designate him for assignment.
- As pointed out in the comments to my Letter to Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik , Jason Vargas home/road splits are a point of concern. Vargas is great at Safeco Field. He had good trade value at the deadline last year, but given his splits, will it remain what it was? I’m not necessarily saying Vargas should be traded, but if he could net a young bat with team control it would be worth into at least looking into.
- Beyond the “Big Three” there are few pitching options in the organization for the rotation barring a free agent signing and/or trade. The outfield depth could be used as trade options, but the tradability and major league talent of some of them are questionable at best without depleting the outfield for 2013 and beyond.
I’m a hometown fan, but not a disillusioned “homer”. The Mariners are more than a year off from contending again. The “rebuilding by spending” has been tried and failed. Now let the kids develop on the farm and sign some stop gap help for a year before rushing the arms to Seattle.
I welcome your thoughts and comments. What do you think?