It is nearly February, and Two-time Cy Young award winner Blake Snell is still unsigned. You can blame super agent Scott Boras for a reportedly ultra-aggressive contract demand (9 years at $270M) or even the collective for doing the right thing and waiting for the market to drop. Either way, Seattle's favorite son (at least this offseason) is there for a taking, and he continues to make noise off the field to elevate his brand in the Pacific Northwest.
Say Jerry Dipoto, the Mariner's president of baseball operations, decides to give Snell a multi-year contract. There are a few dominos to watch for, specifically how the starting rotation would round out. Scott Servais would probably roll out his starters in the following order: Luis Castillo, Blake Snell, George Kirby, and one of Bryce Miller or Bryan Woo. I'd lean toward slotting Miller at the five because he is more built to withstand an entire season of innings (180+). That leaves Woo combining with Emerson Hancock to form a dynamic duo atop the Tacoma Rainier's rotation. However, another option might help the team maximize the 26-man roster.
Bryan Woo, relief pitcher?
Why not put your best 13 pitchers on the roster on Opening Day? I'd argue that Bryan Woo is, in fact, better than many of the arms in the bullpen at season's end and marketably better than the arms they've acquired recently (Ty Buttrey, Joey Krehbiel, Austin Voth). If you look at a projected bullpen based on the current 40-man roster and the non-roster invites, Woo is probably your eighth-best pitcher and could be Servais' fifth-best reliever.
Projected 2024 Bullpen by ranking
Projected STEAMER WAR
Total projected WAR
Woo fired 132 innings between Double-A Arkansas and his time with the Mariners last season. In a spot with Seattle Sports 710, Hot Stove Show, Justin Hollander mentioned that the team is lifting the innings restrictions that held both Woo and Miller back last season. This is a significant development because it means Woo could be used as a multi-inning weapon to bridge the gap between the starters and the high-leverage relievers like Brash, Munoz, and Topa. Imagine Servais and pitching coach Pete Woodworth allowing the 23-year-old righty's stuff to play up even more in shorter stints.
Moving your number five starter to the bullpen is a Tampa-esque tactic; we all know they are the blueprint. However, suppose Dipoto pounces on what looks like a cold free agent market by offering a more financially responsible deal (5 yr - $150M with opt-outs). In that case, Woo becomes a nicety who could toil in Tacoma for most of the year, or you could strengthen an already dynamite bullpen. This move is a no-brainer. Yes, it's outside of the box, but this team must be willing to explore these types of things if they are going to compete with the big boys.