The Mariners have done nothing but make unexpected moves this offseason, starting with the deal for Adam Frazier, and the signing of Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray. I would put this deal with Muñoz in the same camp.
Andrés Muñoz is yet another guy we got in the Austin Nola deal with the Padres. It’s so completely unbelievable how well off we made out on that trade, I almost never want to talk about it again! Ty France alone would’ve made it a win for our side. But, Luis Torrens has been a consistent contributor, Taylor Trammell looks like he’ll be a valuable trade piece at some point, and now Muñoz is apparently slotted to be a major back-end of the bullpen piece for years to come.
It’s 4 years, $7.5 million, not a shockingly-high figure. This Lookout Landing piece gives a lot of great information as to why this could be a good deal for the Mariners; in essence, if he pitches to the plus-side of his potential, we’ll have a bargain on our hands after two years (there are also three option years beyond the regular contract years, that will likely be higher in salary, but if he’s still here for those years, then he’s almost certainly out-pitched expectations to an outstanding degree; I don’t expect those option years will be picked up).
Of course, if he pitches to the plus-side of his potential, we’ll have a bargain regardless, because we’re talking about less than $2 million a year for a guy who can touch 100 mph on his fastball. That will be a nice little addition to what projects to be an already-solid bullpen.
The surprising thing about this move is that the Mariners didn’t have to do this. They really only do this for players they believe in (first round draft pick Evan White comes to mind, though there might be others I’m forgetting; I know they tried with Jarred Kelenic), so it would stand to reason they believe in Muñoz. Because bullpen arms in their pre-arbitration years don’t cost a lot. Even during those arbitration years – where they’re getting raises prior to every season – it’s not like they’re breaking the bank for an MLB team. This isn’t a move they needed to make to try to save some future dollars; it might even be foolish when you consider what injury risks pitchers are, especially pitchers who throw in the triple digits.
I mean, hell, Muñoz himself is coming off of Tommy John surgery! He missed all of 2020 and almost all of 2021 (returning for our very last game, to pitch 0.2 innings). They must REALLY believe in this guy if they’re willing to get ahead of this thing.
Either that, or it’s the kind of big balls move a GM makes when he has all the power over personnel decisions. Usually, when it comes to the Mariners, this is the kind of move that backfires horribly, and is one of a long list of moves we look back on and say, “See, this guy had no idea what he was doing!”
But, if things work out, and the Mariners win it all, then this is the kind of move we might look back on and say, “See, this guy is a genius!”
I guess, more than anything, I don’t mind it. It’s only $7.5 million. For the kind of stuff this kid has, it’s worth a shot. It’s worth it even if he’s only healthy for two of those years, as long as he produces incredible results in that time. So, why not? Let’s make this bullpen a dominant force for years to come! Clearly, as was the case in 2021, a dominant bullpen can take you a long way.