At this point, it’d be almost reckless for the Seattle Mariners to stop, no?
After all, limbo is a special kind of punishment that no team’s fanbase deserves to suffer, and if the M’s don’t complete their remarkable offseason metamorphosis now, that’s exactly where they could end up even with all that they’ve already managed to accomplish. Now, some might say that throwing around money is hardly what you’d call a significant achievement, but that it’s this franchise that’s done it deserves some credit.
Really, how many scoffed at the idea that the Mariners would be major players this offseason?
Yes, they’ve spent years trying to lure that big-name bat to go out west and be the franchise player, but the thought of Seattle reeling in the biggest free agent of this year’s class in Robinson Cano would have seemed far-fetched at best. Much like what the Washington Nationals did with Jayson Werth, however, they needed to start somewhere; and amidst the buzz over their monumental overpay to acquire the second baseman … Jack Zduriencik simply kept working.
The GM had to, really. As much as Cano was a game-changer, he alone would not have been enough to turn this team into a contender. There were simply too many holes on the roster, but with Corey Hart and Logan Morrison now in tow, those needs are being filled methodically one at a time.
And now, all that’s left to be done in the offseason is the hardest part of any push to go all-in: he has to finish the job.
What better piece to cap the flurry of activity heading into the end of the year than Matt Garza? Well, there’s one ace in Tampa Bay who would make a more emphatic statement, but it’s unclear whether a package surrounding Taijuan Walker would be enough to bring him to Seattle. Meanwhile, the free agent market continues to develop, with Garza being the most established and arguably the best option available. It’s a time-sensitive matter, and the M’s shouldn’t wait around.
Will it take a five-year deal in the upper eight-figure range? Sure. Will they have to overpay the 30-year-old? Very likely. However, the Mariners have committed to the task, and there would be little point in doing so if they weren’t going to follow through. Health questions aside, the right-hander brings an ideal fit to the team that they wouldn’t otherwise find elsewhere on the market.
There’s the fact that unlike Ervin Santana, Garza comes with a much more established track record of success. The M’s know what they’re going to get here: an ERA in the high 3.00s, around 1.25 WHIP, 8.0 k/9 and 2.75 BB/9 over 200 innings. His durability will be the biggest question after his last two seasons, but it’s worth pointing out that he was a 1.3 fWAR player over just 13 starts for the Texas Rangers in 2013. As a mid-rotations starter, he’ll make a major difference.
More pertinent to Seattle is that not only does he have experience in the AL East, arguably the hardest-hitting division in MLB, but he now also has experience in the AL West, albeit in a smaller sample.
Garza won’t be asked to lead a rotation, though he’s certainly capable of it, making him an ideal backup behind Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. Should he be called upon to move up to a prominent role, his established floor should at least give the team a more stable base on which to decide the next step.
The Mariners are not without their issues even with Garza, but he would be the one name on the pitching side that would make the biggest statement. Signing him would mean the two biggest free agents this year going to Seattle, and whatever the results end up being, this declaration of intentions can be just as important for a team in both the present and the future, especially if they hope to entice free agents not just now, but going forward.
There is always the chance for it to blow up spectacularly of course, but it would put Seattle back as a prominent spot on the MLB map even then — which is more than you can say about the franchise in some time now, no?