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Who Will Be In the Mariners 2014 Starting Rotation?

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Sep 13, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Matt Garza (22) argues with the home plate umpire (not pictured) after being thrown out of the game against the Oakland Athletics at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Oakland Athletics beat the Texas Rangers 9-8. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 13, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Matt Garza (22) argues with the home plate umpire (not pictured) after being thrown out of the game against the Oakland Athletics at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Oakland Athletics beat the Texas Rangers 9-8. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

Garza has far more upside than Santana even though he is only a year younger. He spent three really solid years in Tampa Bay, and pitched well in Chicago the last few seasons before struggling to end last season in Texas with the Rangers.

He would cost more than Santana with a five or six-year deal at $12 million a season. Though it could cost a few more millions because, well, it’s the Mariners.

Why I like Garza: his career numbers slot perfectly as the Mariners number 3: he has a career 3.84 ERA and has good pitch control and location. He also sports a career 1.24 WHIP and his numbers and fly ball rates seem to slot well into the Safeco Field confines (that seems to be a trend). And more than anything else Garza is a gamer with significant playoff experience and the moxie to improve this rotation from day 1. Moreover, Garza has the potential to pitch with number 2 type stuff which would make the M’s rotation devastating if Walker and Paxton make even marginal strides.

Why I don’t like Garza: he had a rough end to 2013, and he is thirty now and could start waning very soon. It is so tough to tell with pitching, and of course there is always risk in signing a free agent who is hitting the tail end of his prime and had a rough end to the season. More than anything else though, he would provide some rotation stability for the M’s, something that is desperately needed.

Of the free agent pitchers still available Garza is the best bet and the best fit for the Mariners. I really wanted them to sign Bartolo Colon, but he got 2 years from the Mets and that is WAY TOO MUCH for a 40-year-old buffalo.

The prize of the free agent market now, though, is Tanaka. And the Mariners could be a real dark horse in signing the Japanese fireballer.