Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Now That Tanaka Is Gone, What Do the Mariners Do Next?

By Jackson Safon

Today, Masahiro Tanaka signed a seven year, $155 million deal with the New York Yankees. The deal includes an opt-out clause after four years and a full no-trade clause. These figures are just monstrous. I wanted the Mariners to sign Tanaka as much as anyone, but these numbers are just ridiculous. I was hoping the M’s could get him for around six years, $120 million. That is still an expensive price, but much more reasonable than his actual contract, which when combined with the $20 million posting fee the Yankees will have to pay Tanaka’s Japanese team, equals the amount the Mariners are paying Felix Hernandez. Is Tanaka worth that to you? Yeah, me neither.

But now that Tanaka has signed, it is time for the Mariners to make their next move. The next logical step is to sign a starter, because as of right now, the Mariners only have four starters in Felix, Iwakuma, Walker, and Paxton. The three top starting pitchers on the market are Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Ervin Santana. Garza is my top choice for a number of reasons, namely because he is the only of the three that wouldn’t require draft pick compensation. All three are great pitchers, but I think Garza has the best combination of consistency and skill. Ubaldo Jiminez was the best of the three in his prime, but his questionable mechanics have left him wildly inconsistent. Ervin Santana is quite good as well, but is asking for far too much money for his value as a pitcher.

Garza has a strong ERA, WHIP, and strikeout ratio. The biggest knock on Garza is his injury history, which is fair, because he hasn’t had 30 starts in a season since 2011. That being said, he had a period of four straight 30+ start seasons from 2008-2011. Furthermore, he has fantastic stuff when he is healthy, as was displayed during his 2011 standout season with the Cubs and his no-hitter in 2010 with the Rays.

The Mariners haven't been linked to Matt Garza, but he makes the most sense out of the three elite pitchers available.
Baltimore Sun

The other big hole in the Mariners lineup remains a right-fielder. The biggest outfield free agents in Shin-Soo Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran have all signed with new teams, so it seems one of the few logical options in free agency is Nelson Cruz. I am not a big Cruz fan and especially not for the value he is asking. I would be fine with signing him for a contract around 3 years/$45 million, but not much more. I am much more on board with making a trade for an outfielder, whether it be with Nick Franklin, Kyle Seager, or even one of our two young pitchers.

It remains to be seen what Jack Z and management will do, but now that Tanaka is off the board, it is time to make some moves, and a starter is the biggest hole to fill. 

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