Marco Gonzales: Underrated Target?
Today I'm not going to try to sell you guys a top of the rotation arm that we could trade for. We've seen our fair share of coverage on David Price, Yu Darvish, etc. Instead I wanted to talk about an under the radar move for a valuable pitcher. Despite the criticism among fans for this team's failure to land the big fish, it's the exact kind of move that this front office loves to make. We need arms in this rotation. Not just for Pineda's month plus absence to begin the season, but down the stretch. Enter Marco Gonzales.
Marco Gonzales was acquired from the Cardinals by Seattle in 2017 and didn't have himself a banner year. The soft tossing lefty pitched to the tune of a 6.08 ERA in 40 innings combined between the two teams. However, he rebounded in 2018, throwing 166 innings with an ERA at 4.00 on the nose and peripherals that showed encouraging signs. In truly uncommon fashion in 2019, Marco Gonzales delivers the ball to the plate at just under 90 MPH, sitting at 89.3. Despite this, his sinker was his second best pitch at 3.8 pVAL. He complements this with a cutter, curveball, and his best pitch, the changeup. His 6.52 K/9 won't excite you, but his 1.02 HR/9 and near 41% groundball rate make for an excellent equalizer.
In 2018 and 2019, Gonzales was worth 3.4 and 3.7 wins respectively by Fangraphs measurements. His 2019 fWAR would have slotted him in as our 3rd most valuable pitcher behind Odorizzi and Berrios, and our 7th most valuable player on the roster. He may not push everyone in this rotation down one tier like we'd dreamed of at the beginning of the offseason, but he would likely be our 3rd or 4th best pitcher and has proven over the last two years that he can chew up innings with the best in the league. On top of all of his numbers, Gonzales also is paid $1m in 2020 and is controlled for the next 3 years.
Gonzales via trade may be better value than signing a Dallas Keuchel via free agency given what we've seen from the market, who actually had a worse year in 2019 despite a similar pitching style. The money could be allocated elsewhere whether it be bullpen or position help. Despite Gonzales being on top of the Mariners rotation, he should not cost a king's ransom via trade given his limited upside. We know the Mariners are in a rebuild, and they have Jerry Dipoto at the helm who would likely trade the family dog for AA arm he finds interesting. I think this addition would be unexciting for most, but extremely underrated. The Twins would have years of what appears to be an innings eater with a high floor and low ceiling, and would certainly become better as a team. Plus I would be 100% here for the angry Tommy Milone comps.