Seattle went ahead and changed their path for building in the future. They didn’t necessarily get younger, but they have added a few youthful pieces, and we shouldn’t be surprised if they make even more moves over the next few months. Seattle got Mallex Smith in the deal with Mike Zunino, who is a speed threat, and is likely going to leadoff for the Mariners. They still have Kyle Seager and Mitch Haniger, but now they have names like Edwin Encarnacion and Jay Bruce. These are the guys that could be traded down the line because of their worth to a competing club and at their age. Domingo Santana is a potential long term piece they got from Milwaukee, and J.P Crawford was once a top prospect, but hasn’t shown it yet in the majors. Sometimes a change of scenery can help out. Seattle offloaded a lot of players, but didn’t sacrifice being competitive on the offensive side of things. Losing Paxton is a big piece gone, especially now with no true ace, given Felix Hernandez has been slipping for a few years now.
Yusei Kikuchi is one of the latest Japanese signings, and he is expected to jump right into the rotation. He is 27 years old, and we often see these pitchers from Japan have some success early on. In 2018 he had a 3.08 ERA, and in 2017 he had a 1.97 ERA. He also had an eight strikeouts per nine, so he isn’t a Darvish, but more of an Iwakuma type arm. He is a lefty arm, and will get the luxury of pitching in Safeco which is helpful for limiting home runs, but also this is a path that pitchers from overseas have gone through before. With Seattle needing more pitching with Paxton gone, Kikuchi should fit in nicely and be of service right away.
The Mariners lack a true ace now with James Paxton gone, and there isn’t a true ace on this rotation right now. Seattle will be hoping that a rotation of average arms can be good enough to keep them competitive, even if their goal is to not make the playoffs given the transitions they are making. They have Mike Leake and Marco Gonzales as the names that will likely be leading the rotation. Gonzales made a major jump last season, and especially in limiting home runs which was an issue for him. Leake is the same guy he always has been where he needs some BABIP luck to control his other main stats.