According to reports, the Seattle Mariners signed Chris Flexen
The Seattle Mariners have been relatively quiet in the offseason thus far. After a couple of days into the Winter Meetings, general manager Jerry Dipoto decided to sign Chris Flexen according to Mike Mayer. According to MLB Trade Rumors, the Mariners agreed to a two-year deal with $4.75M guaranteed.
Who is Chris Flexen?
Chris Flexen was drafted by the New York Mets in 2012, in the 14th round out of high school. He has spent his entire career in the Mets organization until he went overseas to play in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO).In early 2017, Flexen was the 26th ranked prospect in the Mets organization.
Flexen is currently 26-years-old and he was a starting pitcher for most of his minor league career. But he bounced between the starting rotation and bullpen when he pitched at the big league level.
As a young pitcher, Flexen pitched for the Mets from 2017-2019 but was up and down between the minor leagues. He was unable to get consistent playing time and was designated for assignment, so he found a better opportunity in the KBO and joined the Doosan Bears last winter.
Before joining the Doosan Bears, Flexen posted an 8.07 MLB career ERA which sums up his struggles. But in 2020, he put up some really good numbers. He posted a 3.01 ERA with 10.2K/9. Flexen limited the walks to 2.3 per 9 innings in 116.2 innings pitched.
Making sense of Chris Flexen joining the Mariners
First things first, we need to trust the process and most importantly, Jerry Dipoto. At a first glance, I am not excited that the Mariners’ first major league signing of December was Chris Flexen, but there must be a reason.
The Seattle Mariners do not have their eyes on the prize, and that is completely reasonable. The Mariners are looking to build the team beyond 2021, and Flexen makes sense from that perspective.
To me, the addition of Flexen is an attempt to catch lightning in a bottle, to give him a chance, a change of scenery, or anything along those lines. Similar to claiming Robert Dugger from the Marlins, signing Flexen is a low risk, high reward gamble.
Based on how he pitched in the KBO as a starter, it seems like Jerry Dipoto wants him to pitch in the rotation. It does not make too much sense to give him a bullpen role after his successes in 2020.
The 6’3″ right-handed pitcher was throwing his fastball roughly 150km/hr according to the videos I watched, which translates to around 93.2mph. Flexen also has a big curveball, almost Adam Wainwright-esque, and a good changeup.
It seems like the Seattle Mariners will be operating a six-man rotation to limit outings and give more chances to young pitchers. For me, the obvious locks for the rotation are Marco Gonzales, Justus Sheffield, and Justin Dunn. The other three spots are up for grabs or will be determined after spring training.
Flexen will be competing with Yusei Kikuchi, Nick Margevicius, Ljay Newsome, and Logan Gilbert for a spot in the rotation. And if Chris Flexen is unable to translate his KBO performances to the big leagues, he could enter the bullpen which he is used to. Another way I could see this signing is that Flexen could be a trade asset at the deadline in 2021.
If Chris Flexen turns out to be a valuable asset for the Mariners, he would be one of those players who had a great long story behind his success. He underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in 2018, did not find his place in the Mets pitching staff, DFA’d, and went to the KBO to revitalize his career.