The Mariners had an overall solid performance from their starting rotation this season, but there’s always room for improvement.
Ben: Marco Gonzales, Logan Gilbert, and Chris Flexen are all locks for the starting rotation in 2022. The Mariners will likely decline the club option that would add four years to the deal of lefty Yusei Kikichi, but he will likely accept his player option keeping him in the rotation for 2022. This leaves one spot for the Mariners to be creative with. George Kirby and Emerson Hancock are not ready yet, so I expect the Mariners to be active in free agency.
If the Mariners sign a big-name free agent position player, it would limit their options here to a pool of lower level guys. Jon Gray, Anthony Desclafani and Noah Synergaard are all names to keep an eye on, with Desclafani joining the rotation in the remaining spot. I’d like to see Syndergaard in somewhat of a buy low deal, but I see the Mariners going in a different direction.
Connor: I have confidence that Logan Gilbert will be a top-of-the-line starter as early as next season, so I don’t think the Mariners should overspend on an older pitcher such as Max Scherzer or Zack Greinke. Instead, I hope to see the Mariners pursue Carlos Rodon of the White Sox, a left-hander whose fastball, according to Fangraphs, was the most effective pitch in baseball in 2021.
The Mariners’ best minor-league starters are George Kirby, Emerson Hancock, and Matt Brash (all right-handers), and all figure into the Mariners’ plans in their long-term rotation. Adding a young lefty with playoff experience, such as Rodon, would make this rotation much better next year and beyond. In two years, I’m thinking Gilbert, Rodon, Kirby, Gonzales, and Hancock/Brash could be one of the best rotations in all of baseball.
Derek: While the Mariners pitching rotation didn’t end up looking anything like what most people expected coming into the season, the guys they rolled with got it done. I’m looking for the Mariners to make a big splash this offseason to solidify the top of the rotation. Signing Robbie Ray or Max Scherzer would convince me that this front office is really in it to win it. We all know Marco is a solid piece, but he can’t be the #1 guy on a World Series contender. I’d like to see them add one top of the rotation guy in free agency, and bring back Tyler Anderson to round out the rotation.
Max: If the Mariners sort two new lefties (Carlos Rodon and Kyle Freeland) into the rotation, the 2022 starting pitching staff could be a force to be reckoned with. Rodon had a tremendous year with the White Sox in 2021, and would be a bonafide ace for a team lacking a true number one. Coupled with the acquisition of Freeland from the Rockies, the Mariners would have tremendous depth on the mound.