Heading into next year, the Mariners have considerable depth in their rotation. louis castle Y robbie ray are locked into nine-figure contracts for the foreseeable future, while both logan gilbert Y george kirby they showed this season that they are a perfect fit as capable starters who can take the ball in the playoffs. one could hope chris flexComing off a solid season at the back of Seattle’s rotation that saw him give up an $8MM option for the 2023 season, to fill the back.
However, it’s also possible the Ms will seek Flexen’s help elsewhere in the roster this winter. As part of a reader’s mail folder, The Athletic’s Corey Brock notes that multiple teams inquired about the right-hander at last trade deadline. Brock thinks the Ms could more seriously buy Flexen for offensive help this offseason.
After coming to the South Korean Mariners during the 2020-21 offseason, Flexen had a solid first season in Seattle that exceeded expectations. He made 31 starts, posting a 3.61 ERA in 179 2/3 innings while making up for his low 16.9% strikeout rate with a minuscule 5.4% walk rate and a knack for avoiding barrels. Because of this, his performance was generally supported by the peripherals, leading to a strong FIP of 3.89 in 2021.
While those numbers are impressive enough one might assume Flexen is insurance for a rotation spot next year, his follow-through from that campaign in 2022 was less impressive. While his 3.73 ERA this season may not seem like a significant departure from last year, due to the much friendlier career environment for pitchers this season, his ERA+ dropped from a solidly above 114 average in 2021 to a touch. below the league average of 99. in 2022. Flexen’s drop in performance is further explained by the regression in all of his peripherals this season: his ground ball rate plummeted from 42.4% in 2021 to 33.8 % in 2022, his walk rate jumped to a still solid but less impressive 8.6%, and his FIP shot up to 4.49. All of this led the Mariners to move Flexen to the bullpen after acquiring Castillo at this season’s trade deadline.
It certainly would make sense for the Mariners to consider offers for Flexen, particularly with the glut of options the Mariners have for the back of the rotation. Mark Gonzales He made 32 starts this year and is under contract for another two seasons (with a club option thereafter). Seattle could theoretically buy Gonzales this winter instead of Flexen, but they chose to keep the left-hander over Flexen as the No. 5 starter down the stretch. The M’s also have promising young arms like Emerson Hancock who may be ready to make the jump to the majors next year.
Between Flexen’s $8MM salary for next season and his drop in performance through 2022, the Mariners would not recapture an astronomical performance. There will be a fair number of back-of-the-rotation, gun-eating innings in free agency. Many of those pitchers will require multiyear deals, while Flexen will be a free agent after 2023. That shorter commitment might make him more attractive than a free agent landing multiple years at a similar annual salary, but the number of alternatives available is limited. will reduce. against the quality of the commercial package that Seattle receives.
Given this, the best option for a Flexen trade would probably be a budget-conscious team that has a bat under contract or arbitration control at a price higher than they’d like to pay. A possible example of such a situation would be Guardians and rosary beads. As Steve Adams said today, MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects Rosario to earn $9 million in arbitration for the 2023 season, and the Guardians have a plethora of young talent available, such as Gabriel Arias Y brayan rocchiowhich could be potentially cheaper options to pair with the rising star of 2022 Andrew Jimenez up to the middle.
Rosario, who hit .283/.312/.403 (103 wRC+) this season, has played primarily shortstop to this point in his career, but would surely represent an improvement over adam frazier at second base. Meanwhile, the Guardians might appreciate a durable, back-of-the-rotation pitcher who has already moved between the bullpen and the rotation in his career to line up behind shane bieber, Sad McKenzieY Cal Quantrill in rotation, leaving the likes of Aaron Civale Y Zach Plesac compete with young people like Konnor Pilkington Y cody morris for the fifth spot in Cleveland’s rotation. The Guardians aren’t likely to rush into a one-for-one Flexen and Rosario trade, but they may have an interest in a larger trade package that sees those players trade teams.
However, the Guardians represent only one possible option in this mold. The Orioles might be open to trading some offensive talent to shore up a rotation littered with question marks. The Rays can look to move past first base Ji-Man Choiwho could replace Carlos Santana at DH next year for the Mariners. Those are just a few of the teams that may be in contact with president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto and his staff about Flexen this winter.