Going into subsequent 12 months, the Mariners have appreciable depth of their rotation. Luis Castillo and Robbie Ray are locked in for the foreseeable future on nine-figure contracts, whereas each Logan Gilbert and George Kirby proved this season that they match proper in as succesful starters who can take the ball within the playoffs. One would possibly anticipate Chris Flexen, coming off a stable season in the back of Seattle’s rotation that noticed him vest an $8MM possibility for the 2023 season, to convey up the rear.
Nevertheless, it’s additionally attainable the M’s look to deal Flexen for assist elsewhere on the roster this winter. As a part of a reader mailbag, The Athletic’s Corey Brock notes that a number of groups inquired in regards to the right-hander at this previous commerce deadline. Brock opines the M’s might extra earnestly store Flexen for offensive assist over the offseason.
After coming over to the Mariners from South Korea throughout the 2020-21 offseason, Flexen had a powerful first season in Seattle that surpassed expectations. He made 31 begins, posting a 3.61 ERA in 179 2/3 innings whereas compensating for his low 16.9% strikeout price with a minuscule 5.4% stroll price and a knack for avoiding barrels. Due to this, his efficiency was typically backed up by the peripherals, resulting in a powerful 3.89 FIP in 2021.
Whereas these numbers are sufficiently spectacular one would possibly assume Flexen is a lock for a rotation spot subsequent 12 months, his follow-up to that marketing campaign in 2022 was much less spectacular. Whereas his 3.73 ERA this season might not appear to be a big departure from final 12 months, as a result of drastically extra pitcher-friendly run setting this season, his ERA+ dropped from a solidly above common 114 in 2021 to a only a contact beneath league common 99 in 2022. Flexen’s dip in efficiency is additional defined by regression in all of his peripherals this season: His groundball price plummeted from 42.4% in 2021 all the way in which right down to 33.8% in 2022, his stroll price jumped as much as a nonetheless stable however much less spectacular 8.6%, and his FIP ballooned as much as 4.49. All this result in the Mariners transferring Flexen to the bullpen following their acquisition of Castillo at this season’s commerce deadline.
It will actually make sense for the Mariners to entertain affords on Flexen, notably with the glut of choices the Mariners have for the again of the rotation. Marco Gonzales made 32 begins this 12 months and is beneath contract for an additional two seasons (with a membership possibility thereafter). Seattle might theoretically store Gonzales this winter as an alternative of Flexen, however they elected to stay with the southpaw over Flexen because the #5 starter down the stretch. The M’s even have promising younger arms comparable to Emerson Hancock who could also be able to make the leap to the majors subsequent 12 months.
Between Flexen’s $8MM wage for subsequent season and his dip in efficiency throughout 2022, the Mariners wouldn’t recoup an astronomical return. There’ll be a good variety of again of the rotation, innings consuming arms in free company. A lot of these pitchers would require multi-year offers, whereas Flexen will likely be a free agent after 2023. That shorter dedication might make him extra interesting than a free agent touchdown a number of years at an analogous annual wage, however the variety of out there options will minimize in opposition to the standard of the commerce bundle Seattle receives.
Given this, the perfect match for a Flexen commerce would seemingly be a budget-conscious staff who has a bat both beneath contract or arbitration management at a value greater than they want to pay. One attainable instance of such a scenario could be the Guardians and Amed Rosario. As Steve Adams mentioned earlier in the present day, Rosario is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to make $9MM in arbitration for the 2023 season, and the Guardians have a glut of younger expertise out there, comparable to Gabriel Arias and Brayan Rocchio, who might probably be cheaper choices to pair with 2022 breakout star Andres Gimenez up the center.
Rosario, who hit .283/.312/.403 (103 wRC+) this season, has primarily performed shortstop thus far in his profession, however would absolutely symbolize an improve over Adam Frazier at second base. In the meantime, the Guardians would possibly admire a sturdy, again of the rotation pitcher who’s already swung between the bullpen and the rotation in his profession to line up behind Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie, and Cal Quantrill within the rotation, leaving the likes of Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac to compete with kids like Konnor Pilkington and Cody Morris for the fifth spot in Cleveland’s rotation. The Guardians aren’t more likely to leap at a one-for-one swap of Flexen and Rosario, nevertheless it’s attainable they might have curiosity in an even bigger commerce bundle that sees these gamers swap groups.
The Guardians symbolize only one attainable possibility on this mould, nonetheless. The Orioles could possibly be open to dealing some offensive expertise to shore up a rotation filled with query marks. The Rays might look to maneuver on from first baseman Ji-Man Choi, who might substitute Carlos Santana within the DH spot subsequent 12 months for the Mariners. These are only a few of quite a lot of groups that could possibly be in contact with president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto and his employees about Flexen this winter.