Lester as the Big Add?
Hey, a WAR is a WAR is a WAR, right ….


Justin is an Orioles fan and the oldest Detect-O-Vision denizen who still comments (except when Silentpadna does).  He's always had a very fine feel for AL roster moves, especially over toward where he lives in Baltimore.

Can't miss a chance to poach his stuff for a freebie URL:


No comment on the Royals. Too soon, lol.

Martinez and Detroit seem to be very high on each other, but not sure where he fits in with their other priorities. Scherzer about to become a free agent and possibly gone. Price a free agent after next season. Their bullpen completely failed them in the playoffs. They seem to be becoming increasingly aware that defense can't be ignored. Someone made a post on here a few weeks ago comparing the M's to the 2000 team. Detroit reminds me of the '97 Mariners, perhaps my favorite team of my lifetime - superstars and scrubs, but with the same perfect flaws.

Haven't followed the M's too closely, but I question if Martinez is even the type of hitter the team really needs. I think he's one of the best (and perhaps most underrated) contact hitters in the American League. Safeco probably eats his HR power alive, particularly as he gets older. No position flexibility, obviously no speed. Not saying he'd necessarily be a bad fit (especially considering the lineup balance), just doesn't strike me as the right guy to go all in. Maybe he becomes the default choice because of lack of options, but I think the ideal would be a trade for a power-hitting corner OF preferably a few years younger than Martinez.

If not a bat like that then maybe just go all out on pitching and get Lester. With the new TV deal revenues, we're moving away from the environment where you can decide you want a premiere FA and just outbid everyone else. There are more teams ready to spend big money than there are elite free agents deserving it. The team needs to distinguish itself outside of money to snag a big FA. (I think Cano is a closet Griffey worshipper and JZ knew how to reel in Jay-Z) The M's have a path to Lester with the Tacoma connection. Maybe that's huge to him, maybe it's meaningless. Regardless, that's a starting point they don't have with other elite free agents and you know they can sell Safeco to any starting pitcher. I'd be a lot more comfortable with them committing $25-30 mil per year on Lester than $15-20 mil on Martinez. And if Paxton and Walker happen to jell next year, a rotation with Lester could be one of the best of this generation.


Let's Exec Sum that, the way we might have for an F-500 exec:

  • Suspect that Detroit may get serious about building a BALLCLUB, and letting V-Mart go
  • But!  V-Mart probably won't benefit the Mariners as much as people are assuming ...
  • ... Pay the extra to get a truly helpful bat that fits
  • If that's not available, it's OK to bring in the next Star as a rotation guy


Dr. D's take on the above take:

As we speak (Oct. 21, 2014) the rumble is that all of baseball is increasingly annoyed with Zduriencik for ---> backing out of deals that would give away frontline ML-ready talent.  This implies they won't be able to execute Justin's bullet #3.

I also am annoyed -- as it seems I always have been -- that the Mariners always focus 90% on what they're giving up, and 10% on what they're getting.

You can't blame the M's for trying to offer quantity over quality prospects, in place of Paxton, Taijuan, or DJ.  That's what I'd do also - try to push a 5-for-1 deal while holding back my favorite three players.  It's a legit way of doing business, done by every ML franchise.

Anyway, that is certainly why they are interested in Martinez:  he costs money rather than D.J. Peterson.


Zduriencik has also acknowledged the possibility of grabbing a Lester, Shields, or Scherzer if there is no offense available.  Would that be okay?  Wellllll ....

  • In a vacuum, there's nothing wrong with gambling that young players will step forward further
  • In context, the M's have a nasty habit of being 2nd or 3rd to the free agent table (notwithstanding Cano)

Wayyyy too easy to imagine the M's dickering over Jose Bautista, waiting for Victor Martinez, failing at all, then coming in far too late on the big-time pitching.  "Oh, well, we like our young talent anyway."


But supposing they were smart and decisive .... they could throw an eye-popping offer at Toronto, $1.50 on the dollar, holding back their Big Three prospects, and give them a week to decide.  With the TV deal, awash in cash, they could do what Paul Allen does:  get their best offer out there very early, and reel in the player who accepts it.

Of course, the national saberdweeb sites then spend the winter picking at the price given :- )


Jon Lester is a local boy who racked up a whopping 6.1 WAR last season, and 4.8 WAR x the last 7 years running. He's LHP in Safeco.  With the M's bullpen, and home stadium, it could be truly depressing for enemy lineups to visit Seattle.

Victor Martinez had 0.9 WAR just the year before last, in 2013.  Fangraphs don't know from Critical Mass in the lineup or 19 shutouts; if you like their paradigm then Lester is actually a no-brainer over V-Mart.


There is some hope for M's fans.  Last winter, when it came to Robinson Cano, the M's showed fangs down to their chins.


Dr D



The good word:  "Get the best offer out there early and reel in the player who accepts it!"
Gospel stuff, or should be.
This has been Un-Mariner strategy.  But Cano may have changed that.
Make your swap or sign your dude early, then fill the resulting holes, as needed, with a stars and scrubs strategy.
I'm not trading Kivlehan and Deej.  After that, everybody in MiLB is fair play if I'm getting the guy I really want in swap.
But I'm doing it tomorrow, or effectively tomorrow in baseball terms.  If you get your Bautista* early, that makes it easier to get the next guy who wants to win now.
*Simply an example, but a good one.

M's Watcher's picture

The added payroll flexibility is reportedly as you say, but you can spend the same money wisely or poorly. Make it count, like with Cano, and not like Hart/Morales in 2014. It matters little if it is one large addition or two good ones, just don't waste the opportunity on the wrong guys. Adding a Lester for all the right reasons, then making lesser adds like Cuddyer and Van Slyke should make us a fave for 2015.


The M's have the following resources this offseason:
(1) Enough money to make one huge payroll addition or two good ones.
(2) A number of existing tradable assets
Priority one seems to be to use (1) to get an A#1 Double-Plus Genuine Leather MOTO bat. If you sign a Martinez, then you can use your tradable chips to add pitching and/or a lesser bat.
BUT... if you instead use (1) to get Lester, you are essentially done with your entire pitching staff. No further addition is needed. The upshot is, you then have ALL your remaining resources to add a bat or two via trade. Your flexibility to add payroll to accommodate a trade target is reduced to zilch, but you can throw a boatload of talent at any potential trading partner.


The early bird...is worth two in the... I mean...a bird in the hand...gets the worm...I mean...A stitch in time...
Aww.... forgettaboutit!
I agree. Move soon, move hard 'n' fast, to get what you really want. Bowl 'em over. If they won't budge (either FA or potential trade partner), then move on quickly. But don't sit and watch your targets go off the board one by one.
You're not that far away now... a cleanup hitter and, if you can, another SP.


And it didn't work.
That is all.
There is a law of diminishing returns when it comes to either side of the ball. The Mariners have a risky, but highly talented rotation. Getting Lester reduces the risk, but adds absolutely not darned thing to the 50th percentile projection for our runs allowed IMHO. Because we're already good. Like...even more gooder-er than Lester is in his average year. Use the money to get two bats...nuts to the pitching.


if the M's do sign a top-notch starter like Lester, they will have VERY adequate SP depth. One approach would be to add one offensive piece over the offseason, then wait to see if an ideal situation develops during the season where, if everything breaks right, you can deal a pretty good young SP for one more doggone good bat, perhaps even your premium bat. If we add Lester then, say, Young cheaply: Felix, Lester, Paxton, 'Kuma, Walker, with Elias and Young and potentially Hultzen waiting in the wings (Ramirez has little value at this point). What if Hultzen shows up well in the spring and early season? You could part with one of 'Kuma/Paxton/Walker as part of a superior trade package for a MOTO. If this ideal situation doesn't develop because of injury and/or poor performance, nothing really lost. But if it does you would be in an outstanding position in the midseason trade market.


If that were to happen then Iwakuma becomes a very compelling trade piece. A one year, 7 million dollar contract is an awesome thing but with the way his elbow has acted up the last 4 years I'm not sure I'd want to extend him until after next year if he makes it through this year in tact. I love Iwakuma but he could bring back a whale of a player in return. Not advocating to trade him but if Lester comes home then I can see the logic.
Dodgers would make a great trade partner but I could also see the Dodgers just go hard for Lester. Also the Cardinals with all of their young outfielders could be a natural fit.


I'm concerned that the extra WC is going to make it much harder to find the right fit in terms of trading partners during the season. I think we need to make any big trades in the offseason because flexibility will be limited.

SDMariner's picture

SABR Matt is right. It will be difficult to add more wins through pitching. We already had the best pitching staff in the majors. Even if Lester replaces our worst pitcher, the value he adds isn't much. If you look at our losses this year, in 19 games we were shut out. We only scored 1 run in 20 games and 2 runs in 22 games. In those 61 games we were 8 and 53. So 53 of our 75 losses came from poor offense. Even Lester's sparkling 2.46 ERA and 2.62 FIP (both easily the best of his career) doesn't turn many of those into wins. Adding offense has the potential to convert many more losses into wins than adding pitching. I am not saying that we don't need additional pitching. We are thin on starters capable of going a full season. But you will add more wins per $ if you focus on offense oriented WAR.

GLS's picture

I guess my concern with Lester is committing more money to the rotation on a long-term deal, and how that positions the team moving forward. I don't know what the projection is for his contract, but as a premium guy I'm assuming it's at least $20 mil per year x 7 years. And that's probably undershooting the mark. At that point, we'll have three players - Felix, Cano, and Lester - tying up something like $75 million in payroll for years and years to come. And, this is without Kyle Seager signed long term.
To me, the best move is to dangle Elias as trade bait and sign a mid-rotation starter like Jason Hammel to take his slot.
Or, the big move could be to do nothing except move Brad Miller to the outfield.

misterjonez's picture

Glad to see you brought it up. When I think of adding Lester, it's not with the idea of adding him to the current corps and keeping the unit intact; the entire reason I would add him would be so that I could trade one of the phenoms for a prime MOTO bat to pair with Cano for the next five years.
Obviously Stanton is the drool-worthy target, but there are others out there that could fit the criteria like Tulowitzki, Puig, Kemp, or possibly Jose Bautista (shorter term but bigger impact at a position of need than the others). Beyond those trade targets, free agency actually looks pretty reasonable this year for a #2 bat, doesn't it? Obviously there's V-MArt, but there's also Cruz, Cuddyer, Hanley Ramirez, and potentially Sandoval (I don't like him for this team, but Jack has tried to get him before, right?). I don't want to give up draft picks any more than the next person, but that really looks like a target-rich environment to my eye.
None of the FA players are slam-dunk MOTO mashers, but the great thing about this team is that the holes are so gaping all we need to do is plug a few mid-career Raul Ibanez types into the lineup where we're lacking and things will solidify tremendously.


I know we're all reasonably high on him... but at the end of the day he's a lefty in his mid 20's with pretty good stuff, and below average command. He's a nice piece to have, but I don't think he brings back anything that exciting. And the fact he still has options left makes him pretty valuable to the M's as he'd allow them to sign a Jason Hammels type (or even move up market from there) and stash Elias in AAA as rotation depth. Which is really the thing they're lacking right now more than anything on the pitching side.
They're not well situated to weather any injuries at the moment. But you'd feel pretty good about Elias as #6 starter.


Selling on Elias now is selling low. Buying Lester nows ties up too much future money.
Jack and Waits and the Mariners medical / training staff are the ones who just created Chris Young as Comeback Player of the year... two years after they did the same thing for Kuma... and Wilhelmsen before that, and Perez & Delabar before that.... Fister and Bedard before that...
USE YOUR HISTORY Jack!!! Get the best reclamation project out there, Someone with talent, but something that is not quite right.
I think that player is Justin Masterson. It could be someone else, BUT the key is keeping this streak alive, and using it to their Mariners ultimate success.
Spend money on Offense. Spend HISTORY on pitching!


Like V-Mart he will get too much money for too many years. Take a look at the Yankees, Rangers and Angels payrolls and commitments and consider what it is going to do to their flexibility going forward. We want to avoid that path, there lays folly. There are decent second tier arms available (Brandon McCarthy level) and more high risk high upside possibilities, Brett Anderson types). We need depth arms for sure but not top shelf desperate measures for the team with the best ERA in the league. Keep the eye on the prize, big right handed bats. Focus unflinchigly on what our main priority is, forget the side shows. 

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