7:14pm: Heyman tweets that Gonzales agreed to drop his grievance, which could have increased his service time and, consequently, his earnings, in exchange for a current salary greater than that of a typical player with his service time.
6:13pm: According to Heyman, part of the explanation for the abnormally high value of Gonzales’ deal is the existence of a previous grievance from his time with the Cardinals, which is still pending (Twitter link). The grievance reportedly concerns the timing of a demotion. The outcome of this dispute may alter Gonzales’ service time and therefore his earning power, which would explain the $1.9MM figure.
4:40pm: The Mariners have agreed to a highly unusual two-year contract with lefty Marco Gonzales, reports Fancred’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link). The contract promises Gonzales a total of $1.9MM despite the fact that Gonzales is still two full years from reaching arbitration. Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that Gonzales will earn $900K in 2019 and $1MM in 2020.
Presumably, then, there’s some type of club option associated with the deal that will give the Seattle organization the right to control at least one of Gonzales’ arbitration seasons at a predetermined rate. Beyond that, it’s not entirely clear why the Mariners would bump Gonzales’ pay to this extent; he earned just north of the league minimum in 2018 and could’ve been given only minimal raises over that sum in both of the next two seasons. While it’s only a minor difference, the Mariners are effectively promising as much as an additional $700-800K with this deal.
Gonzales, 27 in February, emerged in 2018 as a quality rotation piece for a Seattle team that was in desperate need of arms. While some raised an eyebrow when Seattle traded slugging outfield prospect Tyler O’Neill to St. Louis in order to acquire Gonzales, the lefty delivered plenty of value to the Mariners in his first full season with the organization. Through 166 2/3 innings (29 starts), Gonzales pitched to an even 4.00 ERA with 7.8 K/9, 1.7 BB/9, 0.92 HR/9 and a 44.9 percent ground-ball rate.
There’s also yet some reason to believe that Gonzales has more in the tank. His pristine control helped to offset his average strikeout tendencies, prompting metrics like FIP (3.43), xFIP (3.49) and SIERA (3.81) to view his 2018 results even more favorably. Meanwhile, he induced swings on pitches out of the strike zone at a whopping 35.9 percent clip — a mark that ranked fifth in the Majors and trailed only Patrick Corbin, Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco and Miles Mikolas. That speaks to the deception that Gonzales brings to the table and suggests that there could eventually be more strikeouts — or at least more weak contact — in the future for the southpaw.