The wait for pitching help was short one now that the Seattle Mariners have agreed to sign starter Chris Young to a one-year, major league deal with a base salary of $1.25 million and another $3.475 million available in performance based incentives. The move comes a day after the M’s officially cut Scott Baker and Randy Wolf from the team. Seattle was reportedly looking to acquire another pitcher yesterday, and Young is expected to fill the No.4 spot in the rotation to start the year.
Young, 34, hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2012 when he started 20 games as a member of the New York Mets. His numbers were nothing special: 4.15 ERA, 4.50 FIP, and 5.36 xFIP, but he still managed to produce 0.9 fWAR in 115 innings. The right hander made four appearances for the Washington Nationals in Spring Training in which he pitched 10 1/3 innings and struck out nine batters before being cut by the club.
While Young has never been much of a power guy, there was concern when he was barely registering 80 miles per hour on his fastball a year ago. However, Jason A. Churchill reports that his velocity is has found a consistent home in the 85-86 range the last several years and even touched as high as 88 this spring.
Obviously Young carries plenty of risk and nobody’s quite ready to buy the “I haven’t felt this good in years” talk just yet, but there’s reasonable upside on the deal. As it stands the plan is to have him pitch out of the rotation until Taijuan Walker and Hisashi Iwakuma are back to full health, and then use him out of the bullpen. Curiously, the plan with Wolf was similar had he stayed with the club, and the lefty was only going to get a $1 million guaranteed salary for the year.
As of now, the M’s rotation will start the year approximately as follows: Felix Hernandez, Erasmo Ramirez, James Paxton, Young, and Roenis Elias. It was confirmed by manager Lloyd McLendon yesterday that Ramirez will start the year in the No. 2 spot after a solid performance this spring.
In 159 career starts, Young has managed a 3.79 ERA and a 4.26 FIP so he’s a perfectly capable starter as long as he’s healthy. The 6’10” hurler has been a member of the Texas Rangers and San Diego Padres organizations previously.