Seattle Mariners: Best Remaining Players Team Could Bring In for Spring Training
The Seattle Mariners made some noisy free-agent signings early in the winter but have since quieted down, just like the rest of the baseball world, which is waiting on pins and needles to hear who remaining top prize Masahiro Tanaka will play for.
Even though the M's signed a couple of big names, there are still holes in the roster that need to be filled before the season begins.
There's still no third starter, and the back of the rotation is full of young arms with barely a full season under their collective belts.
The bullpen needs a lot of help, evidenced by the unit's abysmal ERA from a season ago.
The situation at catcher is still muddy following the demotion and suspension of Jesus Montero.
All that being said, here are the top free agents the Mariners can bring in for Spring Training.
Tanaka is by far the best player remaining on the free-agent market.
The Japanese pitcher put up unreal numbers during his career for the Rakuten Golden Eagles and is at the top of every team's wish list.
Alright, so Seattle's chances don't look good according to this report, but who knows? The Mariners already outbid the Yankees once this winter, so who's to say they won't do it again?
Adding Tanaka to a rotation that already has Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma at the top would give the Mariners three aces. Tanaka may even bump Hernandez to second in the rotation. He's just that good.
In this case, overpaying for ten years would probably be a good thing.
Matt Garza is the perfect third starter for the Mariners' rotation.
He consistently has a sub-4.00 ERA and ERA+ over 100. He's never won more than 15 games, had an ERA under 3.00, struck out over 200 batters or been an all-star, but Garza is extremely consistent.
Garza may not get the praise he deserves due to his 67-67 record, but the only season in which his ERA was higher than 3.95 was his 50-inning rookie season.
He'll probably cost around $12 million per season, but he could act as Seattle's last big signing of the offseason and legitimize their rotation as one of the best in baseball.
I know what you're thinking: a 38 year-old, overweight catcher who can't hit, right?
Well, kind of.
Besides his obvious negative attributes, Jose Molina has been one of the best defensive catchers in the game for years and continues to excel at the position.
He's never finished a season with a negative dWAR and shines when it comes to throwing out would-be base stealers. Molina's main purpose would be to mentor Mike Zunino and serve as a backup or defensive replacement.
Seattle recently brought back veteran backstop Humberto Quintero to fulfill a similar role, but there's no harm in bringing Molina in for Spring Training to challenge Quintero and provide another option.
Given the way the Mariners go through catchers, they might as well sign as many as they can.
Eric O'Flaherty's success didn't begin until after his stint with the Mariners was over.
Since then, he's been one of the best relief men in baseball, compiling a career record of 20-9. He has a career ERA+ of 143 including an absurd ERA+ of 393 in 2011, when his WHIP was 1.086 and his ERA was 0.98.
Seattle had one of the worst bullpens in baseball last season and could improve enormously by adding O'Flaherty. He would likely fill the role voided by Oliver Perez and be the eighth inning man and occasional lefty specialist.
Relief pitching is often a position that gets overlooked during the free agent signing frenzy, but now that we're into January it's time to start rounding out rosters and solidifying bullpens, an undervalued department of any team.