Seattle Mariners: Power Ranking Top 20 Free Agent Options this Winter
5. Michael Pineda
When he’s healthy, he is good. He isn’t exactly healthy on a regular basis. He should be cheaper than Odorizzi and could be just as good. Believe it or not, Pineda turns 31-years-old in January but he doesn’t have the typical workload associated with that age.
The stuff is still good and if you can get him on a 3-year, $30-40 million contracts, you could make that investment back threefold. He is a lottery ticket, but maybe the highest payoff if you are right.
4. Mike Moustakas
Moustakas is my favorite bat in this class. He has been underrated in his last 2 trips to free agency and is doing everything in his power to make sure it doesn’t happen again. He does have a mutual option, so it’s no guarantee he becomes a free agent, but it does seem unlikely he will activate that option.
He is a solid third baseman, has 35-40 home run power, doesn’t strikeout, and is just 31-years-old. Did I mention he has 360 innings at second base this season and has actually held his own? He can play third, first, and now second, and handle all three spots well.
He is a solid #6 bat in the lineup type has been worth more than 2 fWAR in 4 of his last 5 seasons and has playoff experience. I really like the idea of Moustakas, but admittedly, finding the perfect fit isn’t easy right now.
3. Collin McHugh
Now that Keon Broxton has donned the Mariners uniform, my next fantasy acquisition is Collin McHugh. I love watching him pitch and like a lot of other guys on this list, is coming off a down season.
A solid starter for the early Astros run, McHugh posted 9.3 fWAR as a starter from 2014-2016. But as the Astros continued to acquire more starting pitching talent, McHugh transitioned to the bullpen and found success there as well, at least until 2019.
Even in this, his down season, McHugh still has elite spin rates on his fastball and curveball and is missing plenty of bats in the process. At 32-years-old, he isn’t a perfect fit in the timeline, but a team like the Mariners could benefit from converting him back into the rotation, where he could gain significant value on the trade market.
2. Kyle Gibson
Gibson is one of the better pitchers in the AL nobody talks about. The 32-year-old is remarkably consistent, and this season, his strikeout rate has jumped to nearly 1 hitter an inning, when in 2017, that number was at 6.89 K/9.
He gets a lot of groundballs, is a safe bet to have a sub-4 xFIP, and is likely the safest arm on the free-agent market, outside of the Cole and Strasburg types. He isn’t spectacular but provides stability and allows for more options in the market Dipoto really wants to play in: the trade market.
1. Zack Wheeler
Last off-season, the Seattle Mariners sent a message about the seriousness of their intent to compete for a wild card spot by 2021 by signing Yusei Kikuchi. It showed that the Mariners were not interested in the typical 5-7 year rebuild and they can send a similar signal this off-season.
Zack Wheeler isn’t on the same level as Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg, but he may be the best option on the whole market for Seattle. He’s not so good that teams will bid for him as they will with Cole.
He is the best blend of age, probability, upside, and realism for Mariners fans this season who could actually bring the team significantly closer to their goal. This is the real prize for Seattle. While Kyle Gibson would be fine, and Porcello and Wacha are fine gambles, Wheeler is the statement move without spending ridiculous money.
Signing Wheeler would cost the Mariners their third-round pick, but a healthy Zack Wheeler is well worth it. Yes, there are some injury issues in his past. But he is well on his way to back to back 4 fWAR seasons and would immediately become the best arm in the system.
Wheeler is the perfect player to make your statement without sacrificing ridiculous amounts of cash or assets to make 2021 a realistic option. Will Jerry see it the same way? Only time will tell.