Mariners Profiles of Free Agency: Tyler Chatwood

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 5: Starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood
DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 5: Starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood /

Tyler Chatwood is not a big name, but he could be the type of pitcher the Seattle Mariners could benefit from. While he will not be a cause for a parade in Seattle like Yu Darvish or Shohei Otani would, he could be a useful arm for the team.

The Player

Tyler Chatwood enters free agency at the prime age of 28 years old. For most young starting pitchers, this would be the opportunity to cash in. However; Chatwood has yet to “put it all together” and as a result has had 2 consecutive “meh” seasons.

Over the past 2 seasons, Chatwood has produced a decent 4.35 xFIP and 115 ERA+. Unfortunately, at least for Chatwood, he has produced a below average K/9 (7.00) with poor control (4.00 BB/9).

There are some reasons for optimism regarding Chatwood. First of all, to  call Chatwood a “ground ball pitcher” would be an understatement. He ranked 6th in baseball in with a GB% (140 IP minimum) of 58%… 58 percent! This would give the Mariners 2 starters ranked in the Top 10 of MLB in ground ball percentage (Mike Leake is 10th).

Secondly, Chatwood’s repertoire includes 4 above average pitches. According to Fangraphs pitch values,Chatwood’s sinker, cutter, slider, and changeup all graded out as above average. The sinker has good bite and he can rush it up to the plate at 94 mph.

The Fit

Chatwood would likely be brought in to compete for the #5 spot in the rotation. Chatwood also has experience in the bullpen. With Jerry Dipoto’s recent comments about managing Felix Hernandez and James Paxton’s inning differently, adding another arm with Chatwood’s flexibility makes sense.

If the team employs a 6 man rotation, Chatwood can jump in and give quality innings. If the team needs another long man to get through the order once, Chatwood is more than capable. In fact, during Chatwood’s first time through an order in 2017, opponents hit just .231 with a sub .700 OPS.

Adding Chatwood to Emilio Pagan, David Phelps and Erasmo Ramirez (assuming they don’t trade him) gives the Mariners multiple guys who can go 2+ innings on a fairly regular basis.

The Cost

Now we come to the tricky spot in our profile. Chatwood is bound to have multiple bidders, so he will not be coming over for free. At 28 years old, Chatwood will undoubtedly want to get back to free agency ASAP, as he has not yet had the “breakout season” that would allow him to truly cash in.

The signing team would likely want at least a 2 year deal to maximize the possibility of a Chatwood breakout. It might make sense for Chatwood to shop for a 1 year deal in a pitcher friendly park to get his big deal next season.

For the Mariners, a 1 year deal worth about $6.5 million with a mutual option for a second year at $8 million with a $1 million buyout, makes sense for both sides. If Chatwood pitches well enough for him to take his opt out, it means nothing but good things for the Mariners. If he struggles, the team is not on the hook for more than $1 million in 2019.

Next: 3 Up, 3 Down for 2017 Seattle Mariners

For Chatwood, the deal could allow him to hit free agency as a 29-year-old if he breaks out. It gives him some good security for this year and next, and he gets to pitch in Seattle. A breakout in Seattle seems much more likely than if he went back to a hitters park like Coors Field.

Chatwood and the Mariners seem like a natural fit. If the 2 sides think so too, this could be a mutually beneficial partnership in 2018.