Over the past 3 days, Seattle Mariners fans have gotten to see what true MLB Ace Pitchers look like. Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, and Trevor Bauer all pitched like aces. But who will be the next true ace of the Mariners?
If there is one thing lacking in the Mariners rebuild, it is a legitimate “ace” pitcher. The team hasn’t had an ace since 2014 Felix Hernandez, and despite the rebuilt farm system, they don’t have anybody who screams “the next Felix” in their system.
However, things change quickly in baseball. Prospects change their profile. Free Agents sign with new teams. Trade markets develop when there was none previously. But to be a true World Series contender, having an ace is almost necessary.
Today, we take a look at 5 potential aces who could call Seattle home sometime in the future. Some won’t be available for a few years. Others will take massive trades to acquire. But for the first time in a while, the Mariners have both the time and resources to spend looking for another ace. With that in mind, let’s get started.
We all know the story of how the Mariners lost out on Stephen Strasburg by sweeping a meaningless 4 game series against the Oakland A’s to end their season. The 4 wins pushed the Mariners to draft second, handing the Nationals the number 1 pick. The Nationals took Stephen Strasburg. The Mariners selected Dustin Ackley.
Now more than a decade after they missed their chance, Strasburg may become available again after the 2019 season. His contract allows him to opt-out of the final 4-years of his deal, which is worth $100 million. At 31-years-old, this will be an interesting gamble for Strasburg.
The recent free agent market hasn’t been too generous with players over 30, but we did just see Yu Darvish get $126 million 2 off-seasons ago. But what makes Strasburg a potential ace for the Mariners?
Well, Strasburg is a west coast guy. He was born in California, lived there all his life, and attended the San Diego State University. Many have assumed that Strasburg would like to return to San Diego and that assumption does hold some weight. But does that mean the Padres will be interested?
San Diego has already spent a lot of money the past two off-seasons, signing Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado to massive deals. The team must also begin paying Wil Myers $20 million a year starting in 2020.
San Diego also has a wealth of young, controllable, exciting pitching prospects in their system. Would shelling out another $30 million contract be the best move for the Padres, who have never been massive spenders, to begin with?
If San Diego is out and Strasburg still wants the west coast, his options are limited. The Dodgers are already luxury tax challenged. The Angels have a terrible track record with pitching and may have their eyes set on Gerrit Cole, the Giants also have luxury tax concerns, and the A’s… well they are still the A’s.
This leaves the Seattle Mariners. A team that could be competitive in 2020. A team that will spend big money and has major contracts coming off the books. Could they give Strasburg the 5 years, $150 million contracts? Possibly.
With all these aces, a lot of ifs and buts need to take place. But for Strasburg, it isn’t a massive stretch to see a scenario like this take place. However, the amount of hurdles does knock him down our list to the number 5 spot.