Why the Seattle Mariners May Not Target A Free Agent Pitcher


As Bob Dutton explores at the Tacoma News Tribune, the Seattle Mariners may not be looking to sign a big name free agent starting pitcher this offseason.

Some think re-signing Comeback Player of the Year Chris Young would be a savvy decision… but even then, is there a spot on this team for a starting pitcher?

If the 2015 season started today, the starting five would likely be: Felix Hernandez, James Paxton (having him as a number two would create a nice right-left rotation), Hisashi Iwakuma, Roenis Elias, and Taijuan Walker. Of those five, only Felix Hernandez has pitched 200 innings in the Major Leagues. There’s no doubt there’s room for stability, but would spending big make a major difference?

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If the Mariners were to go out and get a Jon Lester or James Shields, who gets bumped out of the starting rotation? Taijuan Walker because he was hurt? Roenis Elias because he fizzled out at the end of last season?

It would be a tough decision no matter how the M’s went. But, at the same time, the Mariners need depth. Guys like Blake Bevan and Erasmo Ramirez haven’t proved themselves to be reliable Triple-A 6th starters, ready to fill in in case of injury.

The Mariners need someone like Chris Young, but the 2013 version. Going out and paying $10-12 million for a mid-rotation starter who would in effect block a young player is tough to justify. Paxton, Walker, and Elias have ceilings that make it hart not to pencil them into the rotation. But still they need depth.

I think this will be one of the major conundrums for the Mariners this offseason: 1) do you go out and get a proven starting pitcher via free agency or trade? 2) and if you do go out and get someone, who do you bump from the rotation?

This is a good problem for the Mariners to have, but it makes you really stop and think whether this team ought to invest money in pitching, where the real need is outfield power and hitting in general.