Mariners: Buy or Don’t Buy these Free Agent Starting Pitchers

BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 15: Justin Dunn #35 of the Seattle Mariners pitches. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 15: Justin Dunn #35 of the Seattle Mariners pitches. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /
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Mariner: Don't Buy Corey Kluber
NEW YORK, NY – MAY 25: Corey Kluber #28 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning at Yankee Stadium on May 25, 2021 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images) /

Corey Kluber, Texas Rangers (35 years old) – Don’t Buy for Mariners

Corey Kluber is another intriguing name, especially when you consider that he sat out almost all of 2019 due to injury (right arm fracture due to line drive) and only threw one start in 2020 (shoulder tightness).  The shoulder tightness is worth noting, but he’s a name to keep an eye on.  He’s an older arm, so the signing would likely be 2-3 years at most, but he’s a three-time All-Star and two-time Cy Young winner.

His statistics are all in line with his averages, but his SO/W has declined from his 2011-2018 average of 4.67 to a 2021 value of 2.39.  This is largely due to the increase in walks per nine innings.  It’s hard to know if this is the result of not throwing consistently since 2018, or if it’s indicative of a larger health concern.  He’s had a few starts, so my inclination is to relate his SO/W decline to his age and injuries which makes him someone Jerry Dipoto should stay away from.

Kevin Gausman, San Francisco Giants (30 years old) – Don’t Buy for Mariners

Kevin Gausman is currently pitching the best he’s ever thrown in his 8-year career.  He’s 7-0 with an ERA of 1.27 and a 2021 WAR of 3.7, and he has experience pitching in the American League (2013-2018 seasons with Baltimore).  His 2021 stats are impressive, but they appear to be more of a statistical outlier when you consider that his career ERA is 4.04.  In fact, his best ERAs are 3.61 in 2016 with Baltimore and 3.62 with the SF Giants.

The issue the Mariners are going to run into is that Gausman’s price will be steep because of the year he’s currently having down in SF.  Considering what will likely be his price point, and the likely regression he will see back to his career average stats, this is likely a Don’t Buy for Seattle.