When we think Jerry Dipoto is taking a break like everyone else we find out he isn’t.
On Monday afternoon we hear reports the Mariners have signed Japanese left-handed 27-year-old starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi to a four-year contract. Actually, it is a 3-yr contract with an option by the player for a fourth year. It is more complicated because the Mariners can add on another 4 years after the three years to make it a total of seven years.
As far as the contract has been reported the three years will be for $43 million plus $13 million for the option year. If the Mariners decided to add the additional four years on it will be $66 million additional. This sounds like a good deal for both sides. Things don’t work out for the Mariners like they thought would cost them only the $43 million however he does as well or better than expected the Mariners can keep him for at least the seven years. This would make him 34 years old when the contracts are over.
The Mariners playing the A’s in Tokyo, Japan at the beginning of the season on March 20 and 21 having Kikuchi starting in either the first or second game of the season they could recoup some of the money in the first year right away. This doesn’t count that Ichiro Suzuki could be on the roster at the beginning of next season as well. The Mariners can have two additional roster spots and likely Ichiro will take one of those spots even if he doesn’t play beyond the two games. Actually, he may not get into any action unless he is used as a pinch hitter.
The Mariners will be in Seattle to take on the San Diego Padres on March 25 and 26 in exhibition games at T-Mobile Park before facing the World Champion Boston Red Sox in a four-game series from March 28 thru March 31 for opening season at home. We could see Yusei Kikuchi starting the first game then Marco Gonzales in the second game unless they decide to split the two up since they are both lefties.
Other starting five pitchers when the season starts could be Mike Leake unless Dipoto decides to trade him, Wade LeBlanc, and Felix Hernandez. Right now not sure what the plans the Mariners have for Felix but he may be the fifth starter. At this point, it looks like the Mariners will have three lefties in the rotation. The Mariners could be adding someone else in the rotation as well like Roenis Elias or Justus Sheffield or Erik Swanson they picked up in the trade for James Paxton from the Yankees. I am sure Dipoto isn’t done when coming to the starting rotation.
The Mariners will need to shore up their bullpen as well. Right now not sure who the closer will be with the departure of Edwin Diaz to the New York Mets.