With the Mariners looking for starting pitching, a familiar name has entered into the free agent scheme and possibly onto Jerry Dipoto’s radar.
Michael Pineda was a young, hard throwing Dominican who broke into the big leagues with the Mariners in 2011. He was an impressive specimen at 6’7”, 260 pounds. He still is. In his one season with Seattle, who signed him out of the D.R. in 2005, he was an All-Star (still his only selection to this day). He won 9 games in 28 starts, struck out 173 in 171 innings and had a 3.74 ERA. In modern terms, he had a 101 ERA+ which is slightly above average.
And that was when he was a rookie.
Sadly, the Mariners traded him away to the Evil Empire, the New York Yankees. It was a deal that brought the infamous Jesus Montero into town. That is where Pineda has played since. He just wrapped up his fourth season in the Bronx, although it ended with him needing Tommy John surgery.
Soon to be 29 years old, Pineda has a lot left in the tank and is now a free agent. The Mariners are under new management since he left six years ago.
The Mariners should sign him to shore-up that depleted starting rotation. Let’s be real, the Mariners are probably not getting Yu Darvish, nevermind Shohei Otani. Jake Arrietta will demand too much money. With the late addition of Mike Leake still around in Seattle and the hopeful return of Drew Smyly, a healthy Mariners rotation is not far off from being reliable.
Pineda had four decent seasons in New York. However, only once did he start more than 27 games. That was in 2016 when he had a 4.82 ERA and was 6-12. He probably will be cheaper than he would have been earlier this year had he remained healthy.
The Mariners certainly don’t need any more injury-prone pitchers. However, Pineda knows Safeco Field. He has made 14 career starts there, with a solid 3.26 ERA and 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings. At the right price, the Mariners should absolutely take a flier on Pineda. He was growing into one of the more exciting pitchers in baseball before he got hurt shortly after being traded to New York.
Under the tutelage of Felix Hernandez (again), Pineda could save his career and boost a rotation and a team hell-bent on ending their playoff drought in 2018. He has a nasty cutter that he can still develop into one of the best in the game. When he’s right and healthy, he has stuff similar to that of Kenley Jansen. Seattle needs all the help they can get with pitching. We saw last year what happens when you don’t have enough starting pitching depth. Pineda is a fine choice.