As we continue to work our way through the plethora of names the Mariners will consider this off-season, the main focus continues to be on starting pitching. Today, we profile RHP Lance Lynn for the second time in as many offseasons.
Man, can the Mariners go one off-season or trade deadline and not talk about Lance Lynn? Just last winter, when it was assumed the Mariners were smarter than they proved to be and everybody and their mother was screaming for starting pitching, one name was consistently linked to them; Lance Lynn.
We even wrote about the possibility last winter, which you can read here. Ultimately, the Mariners decided not to pursue Lynn seriously, and the righty signed a 1-year, $12 million contracts with the Minnesota Twins. But without any further ado, let’s go around the horn featuring Lance Lynn.
Lance Lynn is a 31-year-old, RHP who has pitched for the Cardinals, Twins, and Yankees. Lynn entered free agency just 1 year ago and was a solid, mid-rotation option for teams to consider. Unfortunately, his peripheral numbers weren’t as flattering as his traditional stats, and a market never really materialized.
However, after signing with the Twins, Lynn had an inverse of luck in the 2018 season. On quick glance, his 4.77 ERA and 4.37 BB/9 are enough to give the casual baseball fan pause. But, a closer look at the underlying numbers shows that Lynn was right back on track to his pre-Tommy John surgery level self.
In 29 starts covering 156.1 innings, Lynn posted a solid 3.84 FIP and 3.98 xFIP, along with a 9.25 K/9 and a 49.7% groundball rate. From June 1st to the end of the season, Lynn posted 106.2 innings of 4.22 ERA ball, to go along with 111 strikeouts in that time.
Lynn also appeared to add velocity back to his arm a full year removed from TJ surgery, averaging 94 MPH on his heater. He relies heavily on his fastball, sinker, and cutter, mixing in a changeup as well.
Unlike Dallas Keuchel, Lynn is not going to receive a qualifying offer, which does help his value in free agency. In addition, Lynn is not in the first or second tier of starters, and his age, along with injury and command issues, do limit his earning power.
All of this is good news for the Mariners, who may not have a lot of money to spend. It is difficult to find the comp for Lynn but perhaps the best place to start would be with his 2017-2018 free agency mate, Alex Cobb.
Cobb, like Lynn, signed in March of 2018. Both pitchers are roughly the same age (Cobb is a few months younger) and are roughly in the same category or level of starting pitcher. Cobb misses fewer bats but is also not any better than a #3 type of arm.
Cobb signed a 4-year, $57 million contracts with the Orioles and Lynn will likely ask for something in that ballpark. The length of the contract could be the biggest hangup with the deal, and Lynn may be forced to accept a deal closer to the likes of Tyler Chatwood (3 years, $39 million).
As a pitcher, Lynn makes a decent amount of sense for the Mariners. He is an above-average groundball arm who misses bats and won’t cost the team a draft pick in 2019. As previously stated, Lynn is an upgrade over both LeBlanc and Hernandez.
However, the Mariners could be limited by their payroll and unless they can find takers for Dee Gordon, Jean Segura, or Kyle Seager‘s contract, using a large chunk of your pot on a guy like Lynn may not be the wisest course of action.
The Mariners need to add impact, so spending major dollars on somebody who is highly unlikely to give it to you might be a risk too high for the Mariner and GM Jerry Dipoto to take. ‘
Overall, the idea of Lance Lynn isn’t a bad one. It could very well make some sense. But if the Mariners are not willing to expand their payroll, a guy like Lynn is not likely going to help them reach the playoffs in 2019.