Mariners Free Agency Target: Starting Pitcher Matthew Boyd

Matthew Boyd Mariners

Jun 8, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Matthew Boyd (48) throws during the first inning against the Seattle Mariners at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers declined to offer a contract to left-handed starter Matthew Boyd on Tuesday evening, making him a free agent after six seasons with a mostly rebuilding Detroit team. As Boyd enters the free agent market for the first time, the Seattle Mariners may have interest in bringing on the veteran lefty on a short-term deal to fill the fifth spot in their rotation.

Boyd has been a consistent starter in Detroit since 2016, but issues with his throwing elbow limited him to just 15 starts in 2021. Regardless, he posted a 3.89 ERA and 1.271 WHIP last season, so his release comes as a bit of a surprise; the Tigers seem to be turning a corner under new manager A.J. Hinch and have several young starting pitchers, but it’s rare to see a veteran player coming off of a good season get released before their final year of arbitration eligibility.

Matthew Boyd was the odd man out in Detroit, but a new chapter with his hometown Mariners could help steer his career back on track.

The Mariners’ starting rotation currently consists of high-profile free agent acquisition Robbie Ray, Chris Flexen, Marco Gonzales, and Logan Gilbert, but the fifth spot remains a question mark; Seattle has several top pitching prospects in their farm system (including George Kirby, Matt Brash, and Emerson Hancock), but none of them are expected to contribute much in 2022.

Boyd, a native of Sammammish, WA, could be a perfect fit to serve as a placeholder in the final spot of the Mariners’ rotation before Seattle’s top pitching prospects are called up, and a solid performance from Boyd next season could set him up for a decently lucrative free agency in 2023. Boyd is already a skilled pitcher, but a collaboration between him and the Mariners’ acclaimed pitching development staff could lead him to a big year.

Several options remain for the Mariners to fill their final rotation spot, including trading for a proven starter or bringing back trade deadline acquisition Tyler Anderson on a multi-year deal, but I believe signing Matthew Boyd to a one-year “prove-it” contract would set up the Mariners (and Boyd) best for the short and long term.