Marco Gonzales Will Be With The Mariners For A While

Right after the Super Bowl ended, the MLB twitter page sent out a photo full of baseball stars (any and all Astros players were suspiciously absent in their promotional strategy) with the sentiment of something to the effect of, “We Got Next.” I don’t follow the MLB twitter account, but someone I do follow re-tweeted it, which is why I saw it. It stuck out to me because the Seattle Mariners sent out a tweet right around the same time (almost certainly a leaguewide coordinated effort, but I refuse to do the research), with the exact same sentiment, and it was the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen … at least, it would’ve been, if it didn’t sound so much like a threat.

Oh REALLY, Mariners?! You’ve got next! What will you and your 64 wins be doing for us, exactly, other than boring the everloving shit out of everyone?

I don’t really have a lot to say, other than the big rebuild continues apace. How well that rebuild shakes out will hinge on how the younger prospects continue to develop. Same news, different day.

Until yesterday, when we got NEW news! Marco Gonzales was signed to an extension that buys out all of his arbitration years, and could potentially keep him around through 2025 at a reasonable rate. I say “reasonable” because with the way baseball salaries are continuing to skyrocket, 4 years and $30 million could be a bargain even for a soft-tossing lefty who’s able to eat a … number of innings per year. He threw a cool 203 innings in 2019, which is probably right around what you should expect (as starting pitchers continue to decline while bullpens pick up more of the load).

I’m fine with the deal. We traded for Marco in 2017, and he’s gotten better each of the last two years. I would argue he’s probably reached his ceiling as of last year (3.99 ERA, 3.2 WAR), but he’s young enough to keep right at that level for the duration of his contract. As has been discussed since 2018, he’s a fine #3 starter in this league; he’s less ideal as your team’s ace (which he had to be last season by default).

I’m actually more interested in this new strategy the Mariners are employing. I know, at this point, you can’t really waffle on the rebuild: either you’re all in, or everyone gets fired anyway. But, first with Evan White, and now Gonzales, we’re starting to see more of this core get locked up for the long term; buying out the cheaper arbitration years to hopefully get a discount on what these players might be worth on the open market for a year or two. Not only are the Mariners all in, but they’re DOUBLING DOWN on the rebuild, which I find fascinating.

If they’re right, they continue to lock up these younger guys to long-term deals, and this team hits it big, we could be set up for great success throughout the first half of the 2020’s. If they’re wrong, these younger guys never develop into the stars the Mariners think they’ll become, then HOO DOGGIES will this be a huge shitshow of a disaster!

The sensible thing probably would’ve been to let AT LEAST 2020 play out before we invest too heartily in some of these guys. But, you could argue the Mariners have done nothing but the sensible thing since they joined the league. Maybe it’s time to take some huge swings!

It’s a bold strategy, Cotton …