One of the best pitchers in 2022 was Toronto's Alek Manoah. He finished third in the American League Cy Young voting after starting 31 games pitching nearly 200 innings and having a 6 Wins Above Replacement(WAR) season. He was going into his age-25 season last year and looked like he was poised to be one of the best young aces in the game. However, things did not continue to go well for the Blue Jays right-hander.
2023 was a nightmare of a season for Manoah. He had an up-and-down first month of the season. He had two seven-inning starts where he allowed no runs, but then May was a disaster. In May Manoah had an ERA of 6.15 and he never pitched a full six innings. Then on June 5 the righty would only record one out and give up six earned runs. This would earn him a demotion to the Blue Jays Florida Complex team the next day.
Whether this was fair or warranted or not is tough to tell, but after missing about a month of the big league season the Blue Jays called him up for six more starts in July and August before sending him back down to the minors where he would not pitch for their Triple-A team the rest of the year. It is uncertain whether or not the issues between the Blue Jays and Manoah are strictly related to on field performance or if there are other issues at play.
It does seem like Toronto could be willing to trade him and might even be wanting to get rid of him.
If Alek Manoah is on the trade block then the Seattle Mariners should absolutely be interested. They have proved to be a good organization at developing pitchers and getting the most out of them. If they got their hands on the tall righty I would trust them to get him back to at least starting quality. Maybe he never repeats his 2022 season but I think there is too much talent here to completely stink. He has a fastball that sits at about 93 miles per hour alongside a slider and changeup.
Looking at his Baseball Savant numbers one thing pops out to me. Manoah has two fastballs, both a four-seamer and a two-seamer. The Mariners have had some of their pitchers use both fastballs the last two years so adding another guy who is used to using both pitches. Adding another quality starter could take some of the pressure off of the young guys like Bryce Miller and Bryan Woo.
Comparing some of his rate stats from 2022 to 2023 are interesting. His strikeouts per nine innings was almost the same and his ground ball rate stayed the same. The thing he lost was his command. He walked almost four more batters per nine innings in 2023 than he did the year before. His home runs allowed per nine innings also doubled.
If he can get his walks down from the 14% they were last year to something under 10% that would put him above his 6.5% 2022 rate but close to his 2021 rate of 8.7%. He doesn't have to walk no one, but he can't walk as many guys as he did last year. He just has to get better in the command and control department and I think the Mariners pitching coaches could help him get better.
I doubt the Mariners would be willing to trade high value assets to the Blue Jays for Alek Manoah. However, if the Mariners could get him for a very discounted price then I think it would be worth the risk. I don't know what it would cost exactly but if Toronto is really unhappy with him then he could be a good buy low target. It would certainly be a risky move but if it pays off then the Mariners would have multiple years of a quality starting pitcher.