Mariners Have New Need

The Winter Meetings got started on Sunday and the first news out of Nashville was not good.

According to many reports – but no official announcement yet – free agent pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma is going to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Obviously this is trouble for the Mariners, who were hoping to bring back Iwakuma on a two- or three-year deal. Time to look at Plan B.

Based on what we’ve seen so far from new GM Jerry Dipoto, I think we can safely assume he’s had a Plan B all along. There are lots of middle-tier free agent pitchers on the market, but the price for starting pitching has been quite high.

Top-of-the-rotation starters Zach Greinke and David Price just inked record-setting contracts. Reliable second-level guys like Jeff Samardzija and John Lackey are getting $15 million/year.

Dipoto has been saying all along that the team isn’t likely to sign a big name free agent, but he must have had payroll set aside for Iwakuma. With Kuma apparently gone, we’ll probably hear a lot about the Mariners being in the starting pitcher market this week.

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Stay tuned. The plan is to have daily updates here during the meetings.

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