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No Tanaka? No problem, but Mariners need pitching

By Shannon Drayer

So, were you ready to give Masahiro Tanaka a near-Felix Hernandez deal and end up spending more than that once the $20 million posting fee was paid? Regardless of need, that would have to be on the ridiculous end of the spectrum for me. Tanaka is good but unproven in Major League Baseball. Most did not even project him to be a true No. 1, yet he will be paid like an ace.

Right-handers Ervin Santana (above) and Ubaldo Jimenez are among the starters still on the free-agent market. (AP)

I would say it’s crazy, but little surprises me in baseball when it comes to dollars anymore.

As I have mentioned in numerous posts, if the Mariners had acquired Tanaka they would then have had over $70 million sunk in three players for the next six years. It is one thing to do that on a budget upwards of $200 million. Extremely dangerous to do so on one which is much less. After going all out for Robinson Cano, a move I feel they had to make, there had to be limits on Tanaka.

With all that said, we don’t even know if he was interested in coming to Seattle. It was a longshot. Now it is time to move on.

The Mariners need pitching help and there is pitching help out there. What the Tanaka signing does to the value of the remaining free-agent market remains to be seen. It will be interesting to see if the market for Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez in particular has been held up buy the wait and see where this is going in terms of dollars by either side or the fact that they are attached to draft picks.

Matt Garza is not, and he stands to be the most popular kid in school until he signs as plenty of teams need pitching.

Garza is the big remaining name but is he worth the dollars and commitment at this point? Are Jimenez or Santana worth the dollars and the picks? Are they worth much more in terms of overall impact than Scott Baker, who Bill Krueger was touting on “The Hot Stove League Show” Tuesday night. Or perhaps Chris Capuano or Bronson Arroyo? Is a trade for starting pitching possible?

One way or another the Mariners need to get another starter into the rotation. I don’t care how good your No. 1 or 2 is. To have your 3-4-5 consist of two rookies and a player with less than a year of experience is not a rotation you can depend on. It is not a rotation that will help a bullpen that has yet to be improved, either. Plenty of upside but few guarantees for 2014.

There is work to be done.

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