The Mariners made their highest impact move of the off-season. In an off-season of simply filling the roster, they have extended Marco Gonzales. The extension secures Gonzalez through 2024, with a club option for 2025 at $15 million. With 2021 starting at $5 million and the contract raising half a million every year through 2023, it seems fairly club friendly through the first 3 years. Especially for a pitcher who has been extremely consistent.
However, it jumps to 12 million in 2024, from 6.5 million in 2023. Which in turn creates opportunity for the contract to be viewed negatively in hindsight. How this deal will be viewed later on, depends not only on Marco’s performance, but also on how our pitching prospects continue to develop. It depends on the progress of our Logan Gilberts and George Kirbys, as well as Justus Sheffield, Justin Dunn, and even Yusei Kikuchi.
One of Two Ways
Locking Marco down long-term was a good thing. It’s also good that only one year is at or above $10 million, that is, if the Mariners don’t pick up the fifth year team option. Marco has been consistent, and above average. Yet realistically, he should likely be our number 3 starter. If that’s what he ends up, great! We would have locked up a consistent part of our rotation for a good price.
If prospects don’t develop as hoped, Kikuchi fails to improve, and Sheffield doesn’t pan out, the deal may be viewed in a different light. Skeptics may focus on that $12 million in year 4. Then see that as us signing him to be our Ace. Which he effectively will be if no big signings are made while we wait, expecting prospects to reach their potential, which may cast the move as a complacent decision.
What Will It Take?
This signing should be looked at as the right move, even if Marco Gonzales will likely serve as our number one this year. While he is a solid rotation piece, it’s hard to expect him to be the ace heading into 2021, which is the first year Dipoto aims for this rebuild to result in a playoff appearance. Additionally, Logan Gilbert will likely be our only big name pitching prospect to make his MLB debut this season. It’s hard to imagine no pitching additions will be made via free agency after the 2020 season, unless some of Sheffield, Kikuchi, Dunn, or Gilbert take a big step forward and are set to takeover the ace role for the 2021 season.
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