Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

MLB Free Agency: Seattle Mariners determined to land top starting pitcher

With the calendar flipped and the new year underway, Major League Baseball’s hot stove will resume in full force. This season that means the resumption of the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes. The 25-year-old starter will command the most attention and possibly the biggest contract between now and the regular season.

Two teams in particular are desperate to land Tanaka. The New York Yankees are the supposed front-runners because of course they are. After them, the team looming is none other than the Seattle Mariners. Multiple outlets have reported that Seattle is a team to watch, and Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times confirms their urgency to get a deal done:

Although, Tanaka’s overall price might push them over their projected budget for this season (estimated around $100 million), general manager Jack Zduriencik has maintained that he could go to CEO Howard Lincoln for special circumstances to exceed the budget. This should be one of those times. It’s not often you can go out and get a projected frontline starter that’s only 25 without having to give anything up other than money.

Also of note, Divish notes that the Mariners might move onto one of the other big free agents if they fail to sign Tanaka:

If the price is too great, the Mariners then need to look to Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana. It will cost them a second round pick, and there might be an overpay. But going into the season relying on two largely unproven rookies and my cousin, Erasmo Ramirez, who has had injury issues in the past, would be foolish.

The fact that Seattle’s first round pick would be protected in the event that they sign Jimenez or Santana is important to note. Really, those two guys ought to root for the Mariners to miss on Tanaka so that they proceed to panic and overpay one of them.

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Tags: Masahiro Tanaka Seattle Mariners