As the offseason progresses, we will be looking at a multitude of free agent options and whether or not we think that the Mariners should sign them. We decided to do a bit more than that, and pose a question to the fans to get their thoughts on the 2023/24 free agent market to see what they think the Mariners should do.
The fans want the Mariners to sign Blake Snell in Free Agency
I think there is a two-part want to this deal, and it makes sense. Snell has definitely shown an affinity for being a great pitcher in baseball. Is he an Ace? I don't know. He has performed like one at times in the past, winning the Cy Young back in 2018 with a 7.1 WAR, and dominating the National League in 2023 with a 6.0 WAR while leading the league in ERA, H/9, ERA+, and... walks, of all things.
It was a weird season, as he gave up 115 hits and walked 99 batters, while still striking out 234 (a new career high). His FIP was actually exactly his career average at 3.44, which is still a strong number, albeit likely isn't Ace levels. It's worth noting that outside of those two seasons, Snell hasn't had a WAR mark above 2.1.
Coming in at a close second was Japanese stud Yoshinobu Yamamoto. He's been absolutely dominant the last few seasons, posting a 2.13 ERA since 2018, throwing 717.1 IP over that time. Even better, he posted a 1.16 ERA and 0.860 WHIP this season while striking out 9.3 per 9.
Sonny Gray brings up the rear, despite posting his third 5.0+ WAR season of his career. Gray is the elder statesmen of the group, with Yamamoto at 25, Snell at 31, and Gray at 34. It's reflected a bit in their projected salaries as well, with Snell at 5YR/$117 (very close to the Robbie Ray deal) and Gray at 3YR/$61M. Snell is a bit more per year, and a longer contract as well with his younger age.
Then you have Yamamoto, who is hard to predict. The Athletic thinks he is the best pitcher to ever be available from the NPB, outpacing the likes of Senga, Tanaka, and Darvish. (Ohtani as well, but his 2-way ability is different). Because of this, there is speculation that he could go anywhere from 6YR/$120M all the way to the Athletics thoughts of 7YR/$200M. He's going to get a lengthy deal, and likely a strong AAV as well that pushes closer to Ace numbers than it does a #2, like Snell or Gray are sitting at.
It's all worth thinking about, but when it comes down to it, the fans have spoken... and they want the Mariners to go and get Blake Snell.