Seattle Mariners: 5 Offseason Predictions

SEATTLE, WA - JULY 1: Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais hugs starting pitcher James Paxton #65 of the Seattle Mariners after Paxton got the final out of eighth inning in a game against the Kansas City Royals at Safeco Field on July 1, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners won the game 1-0. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - JULY 1: Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais hugs starting pitcher James Paxton #65 of the Seattle Mariners after Paxton got the final out of eighth inning in a game against the Kansas City Royals at Safeco Field on July 1, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners won the game 1-0. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /
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THE MARINERS WILL NOT ACQUIRE A HIGH-END STARTING PITCHER

PHOENIX, AZ – SEPTEMBER 22: Patrick Corbin #46 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches against the Colorado Rockies during the first inning of an MLB game at Chase Field on September 22, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ – SEPTEMBER 22: Patrick Corbin #46 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches against the Colorado Rockies during the first inning of an MLB game at Chase Field on September 22, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /

Despite my prediction of a payroll increase, I just can’t see the Mariners dropping a ton of cash on one of the few high-end starters in this free agent class. Considering that Félix Hernández is set to earn $27 million this season, the Mariners are practically being forced to hand him a spot in their starting rotation. Therefore, whichever pitcher the Mariners were to acquire would have to be determined better than Mike Leake or Wade LeBlanc. That significantly shrinks the list of potential targets.

For the few that are clear upgrades of Leake and LeBlanc, the majority of the league will be after their services and the Mariners will likely have no interest in entering bidding wars of extremely high volume. Even with a potential payroll increase, that doesn’t guarantee players will actually be interested in joining them. The Mariners will always be smart about what they give up in terms of years more than dollars. I don’t see this regime offering Patrick Corbin a six-year deal, which is what it would likely take to pry him out of the scrum.

As much as I love Patrick Corbin and will be writing about why the Mariners should do whatever they can to sign him, I just don’t see them getting him. It doesn’t feel very realistic. J.A. Happ is another option, but he doesn’t have a qualifying offer attached to him which makes him an even more hot commodity, and the Mariners probably won’t even try to get involved in the circus that should surround him.

If the Mariners acquire an established Major League starter this offseason, I feel that it’ll be something like taking a flyer on Garrett Richards in hopes his recovery goes ahead of schedule. The big dollars, should they spend them as I predict, will likely be used to beef up the offensive side of the team.