Dec. 06, 2016
Rumor Roundup: Will Mariners look inside AL West for Starting Pitching?
It seems that Jerry Dipoto has nearly completed his entire offseason shopping list before the Winter Meetings have even begun. He has added more depth to his 40 man, secured better outfield defense, added a lefty to his bullpen, and in 1 single move improved 2 of his biggest weaknesses, Shortstop and Leadoff Man. What is left for him to do? Find starting pitching.
During a radio interview on 710 ESPN Seattle, Dipoto said he was happy with how is offense looked, and was really looking to improve the "middle of the rotation". Just by parsing those words, we can conclude that Dipoto wants to add a #3 type of starter. Somebody who will be great for 60 innings, good for 60, and average for 60. His solution last season, Wade Miley, proved to be a disaster, one that could have ultimately cost the Mariners a playoff birth. But what is available?
I think we can eliminate any significant free agent. Dipoto has shown little interest to shell out big money in free agency since coming to Seattle. Besides that, this is a very poor market for starting pitchers, and landing anybody who would be described as a #3 type starter will be vastly overvauled in the current market. Dipoto much prefers to fill his teams needs via trade, and as the Leonys Martin trade proves, Jerry isn't afraid to trade in the division. Could he take that approach again?
It could happen. The Astros certainly have a glut of unproven young pitchers. The Rangers could move somebody like Martin Perez. And of course, the Oakland A's have Sonny Gray. But there is 1 name that stands out from this crowd of AL West pitchers, and he might just be a realistic option. So lets go "Around the Horn" with Angels RHP Matt Shoemaker.
The Player- Matt Shoemaker is a 30 year old, right handed pitcher who has been in the Angels organization since 2008. He has been a full-time starter for the Angels for the past 3 seasons, averaging a 3.75 ERA, 8k/9, 1.88BB/9, 144 IP, and a 1.18 WHIP and 2.0 fWAR.
Shoemaker has a 4 pitch arsenal that features a fastball that sits at 91 MPH but can hit 95, which he throws 49.5% of the time, and a nasty split-finger fastball that he throws 36% of the time that sits at 84 MPH. He also throws a slider and curveball, although he prefers the slider to the curve. The only exceptional pitch is his split, posting a 14 wCH ( 0 being average). To put that in perspective, Shoemaker's split was a better pitch in 2016 than Felix Hernadez's famed changeup.
Shoemaker does present some downside. He is 30 years old, and has never thrown more than 160 innings in a season. With the uncertainty of Hernadez and Iwakuma's health, it does give on pause on sliding Shoemaker into the #3 slot. Guys like James Paxton and Nate Karns aren't reliable arms either. To be fair to Shoemaker, he appeared poised to eclipse 180+ innings last season before Kyle Seager ended his season by sending a line drive off the side of his head (hard to blame a pitcher for that injury).
Shoemaker is arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason, and is under club control until the end of the 2020 season. He is projected to make $3.8 million in the 2017 season.
The Cost- Finacially, Shoemaker fits in the budget without problems. If Shoemaker was a free agent, he would likely command somewhere in the neighborhood of 4-5 years at roughly $15-17 million AAV. At $3.8 million, he is an absolute bargain.
The cost to acquire might be a more serious answer. The Angels haven't signaled if they intend to buy or sell this offseason, so it is unknown if they are even considering trading Shoemaker. However; the Mariners do have 1 major advantage over the Angels... The Los Angeles Angels have the worst farm system in baseball... and it isn't even close. The Angeles desperately need to add depth to their pathetic farm system and the Mariners system, while not necessarily ripe with major difference makers, does have some depth to trade from, thanks in large part to Jerry Dipoto.
Jaimie Garcia may have already set the market for young 30's middle of the rotation arms with an injury history. The Braves gave up nothing of consequence for the lefty, and the Mariners could make a competitive offer. A strong package centered around Luiz Gohara almost certainly would be enough to entice a selling Angles team to part with its division rival. Could a package involving Gohara and DJ Peterson get it done? Possibly. Perhaps Gohara isn't involved at all. Maybe Peterson, Boog Powell and Luis Liberato?
The Fit- Shoemaker slides easily into the middle of the rotation. Whether it is as starter #3 or #4 is just a matter of preference( do the Mariners want to split Felix, Iwakuma and Shoemaker with Paxton?). Shoemaker is familiar with the AL West, having spent his entire career in the division. Shoemaker also controls the zone well, boasting a better than 4:1 K:BB ratio. Shoemaker produces roughly the same number of flyballs as groundball outs and Safeco Field plays about as well as Angels Park anyways.
The Verdict- Matt Shoemaker is an excellent trade target. He is good, cheap, and is on a rebuilding team. If the Angels can stomach trading inside the division, Jerry Dipoto needs to be involved. The combonation of the player, fit, and cost to acquire makes me believe that this is a genuine possibility. It makes sense for both sides, and both teams could benefit.
I would like to hear from Mariners and Angels fans on this topic. Please contact me via twitter @mariners360sb or via email firstname.lastname@example.org