Who Will Be In the Mariners 2014 Starting Rotation?

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My 2011 baseball card of Masahiro Tanaka. Will he be in Mariner teal next year?
My 2011 baseball card of Masahiro Tanaka. Will he be in Mariner teal next year? /

Last but certainly not least is Masahiro Tanaka, a 24-year-old out of Japan who has the potential to be a solid 2 in the MLB.

This last season Tanaka had absurd numbers with the Rakuten Golden Eagles: a 24-0 regular season record was a 1.27 ERA. I’ll say that again: 24-0 and a 1.27 ERA. Granted, this came against lesser competition, but numbers like those are not something to scoff at.

Why I like Tanaka: he is young, he is talented, and he is Japanese (which plays well to the very international Mariners fan base). Some liken him to a Yu Darvish but a step down, and some say he is similar but has potential to improve with his young age. Also, the Mariners own Hisashi Iwakuma played with Tanaka at Rakuten, something that could be an ace up the Mariners sleeve when it comes to the bidding war. This is especially important because the max bid is $20 million, and it is certain that a number of teams will offer up that kind of money to negotiate with Tanaka.

Why I do not like Tanaka: there are always question marks that come with players who started their careers elsewhere. The MLB is far and above the toughest baseball competition in the world– so who knows if his ERA will go from 1.27 to 3 or balloon all the way to 4.5. It is really hard to say. Moreover, most analysts (including Buster Olney of ESPN) do not even have the Mariners pegged as a top 5 team to nab Tanaka. If anything, it would take some serious finagling to get him in a Mariners uniform. Also, he would require a serious investment that will carry high risk.

In the end it’s anybody’s best guess who the Mariners might bring in to fill out the rotation. But more than anything else they NEED to bring someone in, otherwise this Cano spending spree will start to look like a disaster much sooner than we would like it to.