Seattle Mariners Should Pounce on Gonzalez if he Opts Out

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 25: Gio Gonzalez #47 of the Washington Nationals pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at Nationals Park on May 25, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 25: Gio Gonzalez #47 of the Washington Nationals pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at Nationals Park on May 25, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images) /
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The Seattle Mariners are 16-8. It doesn’t really matter how they got there or what their plans are. At some point, you will reach a tipping point where “going for it” makes sense.

While that tipping point is still 6-8 weeks away, it doesn’t mean the Mariners shouldn’t consider all reasonable avenues to improve their team. Reasonable is an ambiguous term, but if the acquisition doesn’t break the bank monetarily or in trade cost, GM Jerry Dipoto should explore the possibility.

One such possibility is New York Yankees lefty Gio Gonzalez. After a solid 2018 season, Gonzalez hit free agency looking to cash in. But the market never developed and Gonzalez was forced to sign a minor league deal with the Yankees that included an opt-out if he wasn’t in the big leagues by April 20th.

Gonzalez has chosen to exercise his opt-out, giving the Yankees just 2 days to decide whether to release him or bring him onto the big league roster. The Yankees seem unlikely to do so, which means the 33-year-old lefty could hit the open market.

This is a perfect opportunity for Dipoto to add a veteran starter to his rotation. Gonzalez is a great fit. Wade LeBlanc is going to be out for the next 6-8 weeks. Without any setbacks, LeBlanc might be able to return by mid-June.

For the time being, the Mariners will deploy Erik Swanson, but the depth has taken a hit, so looking for help outside the organization could make some sense. Gonzalez isn’t going to win a Cy Young award but should provide solid innings.

If the Mariners stay in the race, Gonzalez is a solid #4 starter who will likely be available for less than $5 million. If they, as expected, fade over the next 2 months, Gonzalez becomes a solid trade chip for Dipoto to dangle in front of MLB GMs.

Gonzalez posted solid numbers in 2018 including a 45% groundball rate, a 7.79 K/9, and a 4.16 FIP. He was solid after he was dealt to Milwaukee. He posted a 3.63 FIP and a 198 ERA+. Gio checks all the boxes for the Mariners. Whether or not Gonzalez sees the Mariners as a fit is another story.

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But at the very least, Dipoto needs to kick the tires on Gonzalez. He is good, affordable, short-term, doesn’t block any prospects, and should hold value until July and the trade deadline. The cost will be minimal. The potential prize could be sweet.

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