The off-season continues to grind on and the Seattle Mariners remain unusually quiet with work left to do. Could they have shifted their focus from free agency to a local arm to whom they’ve shown interest in the recent past?
If you’ve had any interest in the Mariners in recent weeks, you know they need to add some quality starting pitching to their big league roster. Or at least, a few guys with a chance to be quality arms.
Over the past few days, a number of these arms have gone on to sign elsewhere for what can only be described as bargain level prices. Seattle was reportedly interested and possibly the runner-up for the services of Jimmy Nelson, who signed with the Dodgers. Alex Wood, an arm we liked quite a bit, re-signed with the Dodgers after a brief stint with the Reds.
There are still a lot of intriguing options left on the free-agent market. But with nothing seemingly imminent, it could lead to a question: could Dipoto have shifted his focus from free agency to the trade market?
Of course, we have no way of knowing the answer for sure. But we know GM Jerry Dipoto is going to at least have a pulse on the trade market so we can’t rule it out. And there are a handful of arms who should come cheap enough and in the case of a guy like JA Happ, may come with a nice prospect attached as well.
But what if Jerry didn’t just want a #5 starter? After all, Tommy Milone and Wade LeBlanc are still sitting out there and wouldn’t be too hard to re-sign. And what if he wanted a little more floor than the current group of arms with some serious baggage?
There are 2 names that stand out who fit the mold: Jon Gray of the Rockies and Matt Boyd of the Tigers. Neither has been a common name in trade talks, but both are on rebuilding teams and have an opportunity to gain their team a great return.
The Mariners have had an interest in Boyd in the past as well. The lefty will turn 29 next month and has 3-years of club control remaining. The Tigers have little chance to be a competitive team in that stretch and have shopped Boyd for the past 18 months. The asking price has remained high, but checking in couldn’t hurt.
Adding Boyd gives the Mariners a high-floor arm, similar to Marco Gonzales, who also happens to miss a fair number of bats. Boyd would likely be the actual #1 arm in the rotation and could feasibly fit into the middle of the rotation when the Mariners are actually ready to compete.
As with any trade, the likelihood is dependent on the cost to acquire. And if the Mariners are competing with contenders for Boyd, they’d be better off avoiding a bidding war for a probable #3 starter.
But there is value in adding quality over quantity or lower quality. Seattle wants to be interesting in 2021 and be ready to compete for a division title in 2022, or so they claim. Well, they have no chance of getting there without adding proven, MLB quality players to supplement their young roster.
If the price is right, the Mariners should have significant interest. And in the likely event it’s not, you lose nothing. Banking on Justus Sheffield, Yusei Kikuchi, Justin Dunn, and Logan Gilbert to all be good MLB starters in 2 years is a tall task. The law of averages tells you it is highly unlikely. Adding an arm like Boyd with his high-floor can help stabilize a rotation now and in the future.