Jamie Moyer, nearly 49 years young, still wants to play baseball according to Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports, and it seems the Mariners are one of several teams giving the old man a look.
"Sources say the Mariners, Rangers, Royals, Rockies, Orioles and Pirates are among the teams that have sent scouts to see Moyer. Despite Moyer’s success in Philadelphia, he’s probably best suited to pitch in a pitcher-friendly ballpark on the West Coast—such as those in Seattle, San Diego or Anaheim."
Does signing someone pushing 50 make sense for a team in the midst of the rebuilding process?
Let's look at this from three angles...
1. Current Staff
Following trade deadline deals that shipped off Doug Fister and Erik Bedard in exchange for prospects, the M's had issues filling the gaps in the back-half of the rotation from August onward.
The Mariners starting staff for next season beyond Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda is a mixed bag, with only Blake Beavan showing flashes of long-term potential.
Jason Vargas and Charlie Furbush can occasionally impress, but at the end of the day will mostly be relied upon to eat innings.
2. Down on the Farm
Should the Mariners promote one of the kids similar to how the team added Pineda this season?
Top prospects Danny Hultzen and James Paxton will likely join the team for Spring Training, but barring a breakout performance similar to Pineda's last spring, it would seem that patience is the best option.
Beyond them, pickings are slim as we saw in the final months of this season for anyone potentially major-league ready, with the likes of Anthony Vasquez getting shelled repeatedly during his time with the M's.
3. Free Agent Market
Who instead of Moyer can the Mariners sign?
The list is long, but lackluster.
Starters CJ Wilson, Mark Buehrle, Edwin Jackson, Roy Oswalt, Hiroki Kuroda, Javier Vasquez, Erik Bedard, Paul Maholm, Aaron Harang, Rich Harden, Bruce Chen and Jon Garland are all currently available.
Arguably, any of them could be better than Moyer, but by how much...both in terms of performance and price?
With the exception of Jackson, all of these pitchers are over 30; meanwhile one would imagine each will be looking for either a ring, a paycheck, a lengthy contract or all of the above, which simply doesn't compute for the Mariners' current situation.
The Mariners certainly have options to stay in-house with the current talent available, but if the team wants to sign someone to round out the starting rotation or simply eat innings, Moyer may serve as a reasonable, if not novel stop-gap solution.
On some levels it seems ridiculous, in other ways sentimental, but if the scouting reports from Moyer's workout are true, why not?
“Same as he’s been for the past 15 years—as incredible as that may sound,” one veteran scout said. “He has a chance to pitch in the big leagues as a fifth starter and win 10 or 12 games. He’s throwing 81 to 83 miles an hour, but he still knows how to make you look like an idiot. He doesn’t need the money. But I think he has that fire burning in his belly.”
If expectations like these are kept in check with an incentive-laden contract at a reasonable price, the Mariners might be able to get a familiar face on the roster who will eat up innings and get some positive press while providing the front office additional flexibility to make moves elsewhere. either through free agency or trades.