The Mariners need a new rotation man, but who?

ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 19: Johnny Cueto
ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 19: Johnny Cueto /

The Seattle Mariners have been railed by injuries all year, but this week they were dealt another blow after learning Drew Smyly would not return this season due to a torn UCL and consequent Tommy John surgery.

The Mariners opening day rotation was supposed to look like Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton, Ariel Miranda, and Yovani Gallardo. Currently, Hernandez, Paxton, and Miranda are still there, and Sam Gaviglio has emerged as a reasonably solid #4 starter. While the Mariners could just run #5 by committee, they would be better suited, in my opinion, to trade for a new guy.

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There is obviously some debate as to whether the Mariners should trade for a #5 caliber starter or a higher guy. While a buy-low option seems tempting, the Mariners have semi-adopted that move as bible, and that isn’t working out so hot (well, aside from Ben Gamel). So going and getting a solid #3-esque starter might be the best option for the M’s here.

The team has a lot of depth in the outfield prospects department, and some package of players could be enough to pull a mid-level pitcher.  so I’ll cover one buy-low and a couple of higher-tier players. I won’t get into what the Mariners returns would be for these options, I’ll simply grab some names who could be available via trade and float them.

Buy-low Option:

Jeremy Hellickson RHP – Philadelphia

Hellickson’s name has been linked to the Mariners as a trade target for a couple of years. The deal has never gone through and he sits at 5-5 with a 4.40 ERA for the struggling Phillies. Once the AL Rookie of the Year, Hellickson has posted a career ERA of 3.94, respectable for a #4-5 starter.

Hellickson pitches to contact, as versed by his career 1.25 WHIP. Even in his ROY season, he posted a WHIP of 1.15. Pitching to contact only works though when you A) pitch in a pitcher’s park, or B) have a solid defense capable of taking hits away. Safeco Field and the Mariners fit both of those.

Hellickson would likely be able to be acquired for cheap as he is having a tough season, but Jerry Dipoto could possibly take the risk on him.

Higher caliber options:

Jason Vargas LHP – Kansas City

Yep, you read that right. Now let’s all collectively groan because we can remember the days when Jason Vargas was a Seattle Mariner.

Gosh, it would be nice if we’d just kept him around.

Okay anyway, let’s just look at the fact that in 2017 Vargas has resurrected himself. He is 11-3 with a 2.29 ERA. His WHIP is 1.13, but the KC defense backs him up well. He has just 70 strikeouts in 94.1 innings, so his success could be called unsustainable, but through 15 starts, he’s making it look very sustainable.

The Mariners would have to part with a lot to bring the lefty back to Seattle, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We know our GM is a master of wheeling and dealing, so we’ll just have to see.

Johnny Cueto – RHP – San Francisco

Cueto has had a tough season in San Francisco. No way around that. In 16 starts he’s posted a 4.20 ERA. He’s thrown 100.2 innings with only 93 Ks. His WHIP is 1.29 on the year.

These numbers are pretty rocky, but on his career, he boasts a 3.28 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. These are stellar numbers that would boost the Mariners if they are wiling to give prospects for a 3 month rental of Cueto.

Next: Mariners v. Angels series: Miranda to Friday

Who knows what will happen ultimately. Maybe Dipoto sits on his hand and does nothing. Maybe he sells a bunch of players off, but if they are going to add rotation depth for a win-now run, these could be options.