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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Mariners: Go for Max Scherzer possibly
WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 30: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park on May 30, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /

Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals (Turns 37 in July) – Buy for Mariners (for the right price)

My initial reaction when considering Scherzer as a potential FA target for Seattle was the same as everyone else’s – every major market team will go after this guy, and his price is going to be sky-high which would detract from spending in other areas.  I hear you.  Is it likely that he goes to St. Louis, Boston, NYY, or LAD?  Sure.

I think this is one of those times where the franchise demonstrates to the fanbase that, after years of refusal to commit to the spend, the front office inquires and makes an offer.  Maybe it doesn’t land.  Maybe STL throws him an otherworldly sum of cash, and he gets to go home to Missouri to finish his career in his home state.

He is turning 37, so there is a chance that these major teams decide his age and the number of games started (380) will finally catch up to him.  This is where the Mariners fit in – they make an aggressive offer and get a three-time Cy Young winner who could lead this rotation for the next 3 years while we make a run for the Wild Card.

Dylan Bundy, Los Angeles Angels (Turns  29 in November) – Buy for Mariners (for the right price)

Dylan Bundy’s season is off to a rocky start, producing a 1-6 record with a 6.16 ERA in 11 starts.  He’s an interesting free agency target for Seattle for a few reasons: he’s currently in the AL West, he finished ninth in the 2020 AL Cy Young race, has a high ground ball rate of 40.4% – 41.1% in the past three seasons, and historically has proven to produce an ERA+ of between 78 (2018) and 143 (2020).

His career ERA+ of 95 would put him as one of the best pitchers in the Mariners starting rotation, behind only Kikuchi (98) and Dunn (126).  If the Mariners were to make a move, they’d be looking at his progressive improvements made over the past few years.

His ceiling as a Cy Young contender makes him an intriguing target, even if the Mariners only see him produce an ERA+ of >100.  The Mariners could get lucky and end up signing him for a bargain, given his current woes.  He’s worth making a move for, particularly if the price is right.