Early in the offseason, it looked as though there was a good chance the Mariners would move one of their two candidates for the fifth spot in the rotation. The quartet of Luis Castillo, Robbie Ray, Logan Gilbert and George Kirby create a standout set of options in slots one through four, and Seattle has a pair of solid back-of-the-rotation options in Marco Gonzales and Chris Flexen. Behind that duo, prospects like Emerson Hancock, Bryce Miller and Taylor Dollard have all reached Double-A and enjoyed success there, placing them within reasonable proximity of MLB readiness. Miller, in particular, cracked the back of some top-100 lists this year, landing 74th on Kiley McDaniel’s list at ESPN, 98th at MLB.com and 100th at Baseball America.
It’s a strong collection of depth, and the presence of Miller, Hancock and Dollard seemed like it could be enough to sway the Mariners to move one of Flexen or Gonzales. Flexen, as a free agent next offseason* with a palatable $8MM salary — compared to the $18.5MM still owed to Gonzales through 2024 — seemed to be the likeliest candidate. That’s true not only from an on-paper standpoint, but also when considering that president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto plainly acknowledged in November that he’d been receiving trade interest in Flexen at the annual general managers’ meetings.
(*=There seems to be some continued confusion regarding this, as Flexen won’t have six years of Major League service time after the season, but MLBTR has confirmed that he will become a free agent next winter, as is the case with the vast majority of KBO/NPB signees whose free agent contracts expire.)
The Mariners, however, were never going to give Flexen away just to shed his salary, and the fact that he remains with the club is a clear indicator that another club has yet to put forth an offer Dipoto & Co. felt was commensurate with Flexen’s value. The extent of that value is subjective, but Flexen would be a clear upgrade to the back of several teams’ rotations.
Since returning from a successful one-year stint in the Korea Baseball Organization, he’s pitched to a 3.66 ERA in 317 2/3 innings. Granted, his 92.4 mph average fastball and 16.5% strikeout rate are below average, but Flexen also has sharp command (6.8% walk rate). He keeps lefties in check with the help of an above-average changeup and has generally done a good job keeping the ball in the yard since his MLB return. Flexen has benefited slightly from a pitcher-friendly home environment, but his numbers away from T-Mobile Park (3.75 ERA, 1.12 HR/9) are only slightly worse than those compiled when pitching at home in Seattle (3.57 ERA, 0.91 HR/9).
Because Flexen’s numbers were superior to those of Gonzales across the board, some argued that Gonzales should be the odd man out, despite his relatively lengthy tenure with the club. Gonzales is nearly three years older, however, has more than double the money remaining on his contract. Flexen’s trade value was and is higher, and while he alone wouldn’t have fetched a substantial upgrade to the Seattle lineup, he could certainly have been included in a package that worked toward that endgame.
Now, however, the majority of the teams around the game have exhausted the bulk of their offseason budget and filled the rotation vacancies that existed early in the winter. That ostensibly points toward both Flexen and Gonzales beginning the year with Seattle, perhaps with one in a long relief role. It’s always possible that a spring injury elsewhere on the staff would necessitate a scenario wherein both Flexen and Gonzales are part of the Opening Day rotation.
That said, the injury component still looms as a possibility for other clubs. Even teams that right now believe their rotations to be full could run into trouble over the next 50 days. Nary a spring training goes by without multiple pitchers going down to major injury; situations like the one that popped up today in Milwaukee — where Aaron Ashby is being slowed by shoulder fatigue — are commonplace this time of year. As the exhibition season wears on, more severe injuries that threaten long chunks (or the entirety) of an established pitcher’s season will arise. Many teams are in positions like the Mariners, where they have the depth to withstand such a hit. Others, however, are already looking at questionable depth beyond their top few names (e.g. White Sox, Blue Jays, Padres — to varying extents).
Injuries are an inevitability this time of year, and the Mariners’ depth will likely be attractive to other clubs as health troubles throughout the league arise. Seattle may prefer to stockpile that depth, but moving Flexen would likely free up some resources to expand the budget for in-season acquisitions. It’s also possible that they take on some salary to address another need on the big league roster by way of the Flexen trade itself.
For what it’s worth, Corey Brock of The Athletic speculated in his latest mailbag that the Mariners will ultimately find a deal for Flexen during spring training when an injury on another club creates a need, though it’s just as possible that said injury occurs on Seattle’s staff and takes Flexen out of the trade equation entirely.
Let’s put this one up to a vote for MLBTR readers to weigh in (link to poll)…
deGrom Texas Ranger
Given that few trades have happened and the Ms are really contenders, no way. I don’t get the high early percentage saying he will be traded.
Agreed no reason why Flexen can’t be a fixture in the bullpen for the M’s in 2023. And he can always move back in their rotation if an injury occurs, or if someone is traded later on.
I ranted a bit below about why they might trade him. In a nutshell, they have immediate starter depth that could buy a little time for Miller, Hancock, and Dollard, and they have 8, solid RHRPs already, plus 2 more under-the-radar NRIs and another 6 on the 40.
I guess it’s important to understand that Seattle doesn’t need to shed salary, so a trade isn’t imminent, but the pitching is an area of strength and they have needs.
What all these fans think plus $5 will get you a cup of coffee.
But I guess that just stimulating discussion is the real point here.
Do I think they will trade Flexen?
Heck no. That’s like throwing away your good, durable work shoes.
A lot of good miles left on Flexen.
Miles left? Were I come from I would have said tires. If you’re running moonshine or pitchers. Flexen is there ace in the hole they do have a patch to put on that tire if needs be, if the right deal comes
up of course. 5$ coffee hey? It all go’s up even pitcher need more money. It’s maybe time to cash in some of that Starbucks stock hey Fred? .
Pitchers like this are so volatile. In a snap of a finger he could turn right back into a pumpkin. If you can get something of relative value (now or future) in return, you obviously do it. But most teams themselves already have a few of these types of guys around, at least the playoff contenders. The elite teams have a few guys like this in AAA. And I can’t imagine a team that is tanking trading anything real for such a guy.
Selah Rick 2
You mean a guy that can throw 200 innings and have a sub 4 era? Yea teams have those guys just sitting around waiting for a shot? Some with 3 in AAA? Probably not.
You mean a guy that can throw 200 innings and have a sub 4 era?
If you’re talking about Flexen, I’d make an all-in wager he doesn’t get 200 IPs and a sub-4 era.
Selah Rick 2
He was at or close to that his first year back in the states. It’s the reason they brought him in because of the shortened season the year before. And would have done the same last year if not moved to the bp because of the Castillo trade at the deadline. So yes he can pitch to those numbers. He was just the odd man out last year.
Pitchers with a 2 year track record? Flexen is a dude and has proven it. Taylor dollard in AA looks almost exactly like Flexen making flex expendable. And starters with a 3.66 era over a 2 year span don’t grow on trees. I would keep flex and trade Marco, but either way we have backups.
It’s hard to believe just 2 years ago Marco was our top #1 SP. our rotation has come a long way over the past 1-2 years. And now we have Bryce Miller, Dollard, and Hancock knocking on the door that ALL 3 project better than Marco alone!
Don’t be surprised if Robbie opts out after 2025, but by then 3 more years Miler and Dollard should be able to slip in nicely. If that happens Seattle is looking at 1-5 Top of the Rotation SPs being in our rotation. If Robbie stays, that’s a ton of SP depth without Marco and Flexen
I’m not that impressed with Robbie Ray to be truthful. Most of his career he been only a average pitcher. He had 1 strong season that won him a the Cy Young award, but last year season was his norm. I don’t expect him to be much better this upcoming season. If he does that just added bonus for the Mariners.
Coming from a Mariners fan, Flexen is by no means going to compete for a CY Young, but I would be absolutely shocked if he turned into a pumpkin at the snap of a finger. He’s an absolute bulldog on the mound. Not the greatest stuff but a true competitor.
None of us are GMs, the salesmanship in a comment section doesn’t change anything. His peripheral stats & overall value show that his baseball card stats are due for regression. For example, his K:BB is poor, & his BABIP dropped 30 points last year from his career average. If it was more in line with his career average last year we would be talking about a guy with minimal trade value.
Nothing against the guy. But we, in comment sections, don’t have to pump him up to boost his trade value.
I WANT him to be traded for either another great bullpen player with a more established role or a consistent, effective corner infielder
He wouldn’t get anyone better than Suarez or France in return, or are you thinking someone to back them up?
Both spent time at the dh position at points throughout the season, so yes, someone who could fill in whenever either needs a DH. However, i do feel like the mariners have a solid lineup with good depth. Sam Haggerty was amazing coming off the bench wherever he was needed, and I am hopeful that Evan white and kelenic can finally get something going. Along with taylor Trammell, there is plenty of upside and potential on the lineup, but I would love more solid bullpen pitchers.
I agree with that. Although I could see it being a summer trade rather than Spring. Feels like there is a decent chance one of White, Kelenic, Murphy, Trammell, or Haggerty can break through and truly earn a spot.
With the recent signings, I believe that our Opening Day roster, barring an injury or a breakout spring training, looks like this
I think Suarez also will take some time at DH, with La Stella or Moore filling in for him at 3rd. Plenty of depth at most positions, I feel like an addition of a regular DH would be nice too. Murphy remains a solid backup Catcher, especially with Cal’s injuries last season he could get more time, Moore and Haggerty remain very important and effective utility players. I think white, Trammell, and kelenic will all spend some time in the minors
Stupid Mets gave up on flexen and Sewald and both posted WAR and were very serviceable. Talk about a cursed franchise. Just wait until marlins pass them in the standings this year. 37 years and counting, it will be. Good on you mate!!!!
can you define respectable WAR? because as a met both of them were worth less than a negative 2 WAR in their time with the mets. They were actually not worth a positive war at any point in the their mets career. Sewald especially had 4 season and over 100 games played and still did not produce a positive. Flexen was at 3 season but only 27 games but if i remember right he wanted out of his contract to play overseas which the mets granted him as he was probably going to be non-tendered anyways.
Curious how many years do you keep someone around to see if they finally click? Curious would Dom Smith still be on the team? I liked him and he showed some promise (more than Flexen and Sewald put together in their time with the mets) perhaps Gsellman should still be on the team i mean he was a solid closer for a while. Lets bring back Jacob Rhame, he was actually better than both sewald and flexen.
Sometimes its a ny factor sometimes you just need that one coach that sees something that no one else sees. I wish Sewald and Flexen the best but i would say i dont blame the mets for that decision at that time as they were just taxi squad fillers and they were giving others a shot on their spots to improve the team.
Yeah there are guys who just don’t work well within a franchise (like any FA hitter for the Mariners I.e. Frazier, Winker, Figgins, Beltre, etc). The other thing with Sewald and Flexen is that their approach plays really well in T-Mobile which isn’t very kind to fly balls for hitters. Marco Gonzales is the same way. Some of those guys would see their ERAs rise by a run or so if they went to any other team.
I wouldn’t bother with responding to all of these hindsight-informed shoulda coulda opinions.
The (insert team here) are such idiots! Can’t believe they passed on Aaron Judge/Mike Trout/Jacob deGrom!
Show me the contemporaneously time stamped comment bemoaning the loss of Chris Flexen or Paul Sewald, then we’ll talk.
i agree with you for the most part. Not sure if i have logs here but from that offseason way back when i know in every board i was member on I kept saying murphy and turner should have been kept. I honestly never thought turner would blow up like he did but i thought he could be what mcneil is like now and murphy bled blue and orange and was a solid player and showed tremendous upside in the playoffs. He was literally waiting on the mets to offer him something.
Also the mets should have just signed kelly johnson they traded for him what like a dozen times giving up a pitching prospect each time lol.
Even murph and JT are much different cases. Sewald and flex were negative value players in ample consistent situations. I really couldn’t tell the difference between flex and Corey Oswalt. They were filler. Expendable, at the time.
murphy yes was very different.
Turner was right about replacement level if you went by the stats and defense, but they also moved him every where and never really let him settle and rotated him in and out beween main roster and minors and everwhere. They also had tejada, flores, satin, and valdespin whom were all younger except Satin i think was same age and i think Duda was rolling around.along with the mets had Herrera in the minors.to i think.
Maybe it was him pieing the player of the game or the play in the game you just knew he was different and would be special. In typical coupon fashion he was about to make decent money so the coupons let him go.
Yeah, you are right. It’s been a while since I’ve heard the name jordany valdespin.
Never going to forget the time he bunted the ball into his nuts that one ST. Was never the same.
The Baseball Fan
OOTP teaches us wrong sometimes on Japanese Free Agents over 25.
Jerry Dipoto does like to trade but I don’t think the Mariners will lose a pitcher who can serve multiple roles.
Who are all you people lol ??? (Don’t recognize the usernames here as being anyone who normally posts under Mariners topics.) Welcome aboard if you’re new!!!
Yeah welcome aboard if anyone is new! I think part of the people that are commenting on this are intrigued because it can involve their team. I’m not a Mariners fan, but it’s a team I like to follow because they are young, got lots of potential graduating prospects, and have a gm that makes a lot of moves. It’s hard to not be interested and rooting for a team like the Ms who have finally made their way back to dominance!
To talk of a trade, the proposed scenarios are dependent on which way the wind blows. If I were to choice between Marco, and Flexen I would trade Marco..
The last couple of years he has these extended moments where he gets himself out of control. Why that happens is any ones guess
It depends if you’re trading to get something or to dump salary. Marco would be a salary dump and wouldn’t net anything. Flexen has only one inexpensive year at $8M. Also Marco still cruises at TMobile. He was built for that stadium and won’t replicate his success elsewhere.
They still have the wrong Luis Castillo linked.
I wouldn’t mind if the jays picked him up. Maybe Seattle will take Kikuchi back for him (I know they wouldn’t but it is fun to think about).
I think Flexen is an average pitcher getting paid $8M/year. Not a lot of value there and why wouldn’t teams just go with an in house option for less money?
MLBTR is overvaluing Flexen. Better value is Jacob Junis, comparable pitcher at 1/3 the salary.
In a similar number of innings over the past two seasons Chris Flexen has a better ERA, comparable ERA+, comparable fWAR and better bWAR than fellow righthanders Jameson Taillon and Taijuan Walker.
Flexen is at least two years younger than Taillon and Walker, who this offseason landed four-year contracts for $68 million and $72 million, respectively.
The Seattle Mariners are unlikely to trade Flexen without getting significant value in return.
8 million dollars is peanuts for most teams these days! Matthew Boyd got 10 million (at least I think that’s what it was). Good but not great relievers are making more than that in a season. So a starter who can give you 160+ innings at a league average or better clip is actually pretty good value. No teams gonna give up the moon for him, but the Mariners could easily trade him for a decent reliever or a prospect in a teams 15-10 range.
Thank you for confirming his FA status following the season, as far as I can tell you’re the first outlet to do it. And apologies for spreading misinfo in the comments on the last Flexen post lol.
Seattle Times, 710 ESPN and The Athletic covered it, but yes, still good to see someone here address it for their readers.
Seems something could be worked out with the Padres for one of their bullpen pieces. Maybe something like Flexen for Jose Castillo could work..
That would be too many Castillo’s.
Lot’s of well thought out comments here.. There are as many of those as possibilities the M’s might ponder. One thought that I think about is Flexen by himself isn’t going to return them a whole lot maybe some minimal gain they might consider expanding a trade if the opportunity comes along nevertheless they do have needs both hitting, and pitching
There seems to be quite an emphasis these days to plan for injuries to the starting rotation. So, having a sixth starter on hand is probably preferable to a depth piece elsewhere or another player to compete for LF at-bats.
Maybe the Mariners would be more inclined to trade Flexen (or Gonzalez) if/when Hancock and Dollard show well in Triple-A. If either or both are humming along at Tacoma in May, then the Mariners would probably become more inclined to trade one of the veterans.
That’s not a bad Idea, you’ve heard of striking while the deal is hot? opportunities sometime come at inopportune times.
Can I steal your name Moonlight?
Steve pretty much covered every angle on this and I agree that they won’t just give him away, but it still seems likely he gets moved, and if not him, perhaps another RHRP.
Here are the likely favorites…
That’s 8 without Flexen, and though Sadler isn’t on the 40, he’s probably a lock if he’s 100%.
There are 6 more on the 40, including Rule 5 pick, Chris Clark, and they could benefit from a dominant LHRP which they currently don’t have.
Also worth noting they have an intriguing NRI who showed incredible stuff in a showcase for teams, AJ Puckett, plus old friend Taylor Williams, who is also back with the organization.
If they could net a lefty, or put together a package for a more established (or more promising) bat, it’s easy to see them trading from this area of strength.
For now, they have pitching depth that many teams should envy. And for those concerned about immediate starter depth, they do have options apart from Flexen and AA arms.
Tommy Milone and Nick Margevicius are a couple of names who could arguably buy time early for the AA arms should the need arise, and with a deep bullpen, they wouldn’t necessarily need to squeeze a lot of innings from each start.
Other alternatives include McCaughen and Sheffield.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Seattle deeper in pitching, but they’re really gambling with the offense. The fallbacks for Kelenic are two other outfielders who have struggled in previous opportunities and one who just got his feet wet in AAA. The top alternatives to La Stella, who hasn’t been good for two years now, are Colin Moran and Evan White.
They could definitely stand to find more bats even if only for depth.
1-I think it would be foolish for a team to trade for Flexen thinking he’ll be a #3 or better.
2-I think it would be foolish of Seattle to trade quality depth unless they get blown away.
As a RS fan, I’d be interested, but not so much that I’d give Seattle anything that they really need or covet.
Someone is going to have an injury in spring training and decide he’s worth overpaying for. SPs are too valuable not to trade when you have legitimate depth and some contender is going to have someone go down with TJ and need to make a move. He may not be an ace but he can give you quality innings while you wait for prices for rental aces fall at the deadline.
The thing is. If they trade him now/before the season they will be selling high.
If they wait, they COULD end up finding a more needy trade partner and get a better return than they can now. But, I really think Flex’s perceived value could NOT be any higher than it is now, coming off of 2 extremely productive seasons and a sparkling stint in the pen late last year.
And for the record, I am perfectly happy keeping him through the duration of his deal
If I was the M’s I would be totally fine with him being on the 26 man roster all year, too. But there’s always going to be injuries that happen every spring. Some contender’s 2 or 3 SP is going to go down and they’ll be desperate. I’m also counting on the M’s realizing that the longer he’s around his value is just going to go down (through less control if nothing else) and the potential for him to have an injury himself. Plus, I’m adding in the trader Jerry factor.
I doubt a Flexen trade happens for the simple fact that nobody will give up anything substantial for him. But at the same time Flexen is a valuable depth starter that the Mariners won’t give up for nothing
It would take a serviceable reliever or legitimate prospect in order for the Mariners to do it, but nobody is going to be willing to do that. They’ll find a starter through free agency or waivers before they will give up anything
Yeah, maybe if a team gets in a desperate situation and they really need a starter they shoot a decent prospect over for him, but even then I’m not sure the M’s will be willing to sacrifice depth for a middling prospect
And is Flexen really an upgrade over the Jared Eickhoff of the world? A little, but not enough to warrant giving something up
Yes Flexen is a major upgrade over the Jerad Eickhoffs of the world, According to Baseball-reference, in 2021 Flexen was 4.4 WAR better than Eickhoff and in 2022 he was 1.7 WAR better. Accroding to Fangraphs, in 2021 Flexen was 3.7 WAR better than Eickhoff and in 2022 he was 0.9 WAR better. So, on average over the last 2 years he’s worth a little more than 2 WAR better. Would a team give up something to gain a 2 WAR improvement? Yep!
Oh gawd I knew a casual would bring up WAR and stats from past years but the reality is he’s now possibly not a dramatic upgrade over a journeyman starter
Especially at his age and the fact that there’s now risk of getting performance something similar to what you would get out of waiver wire starters
Flexen starting regularly and getting rocked to the tune of a 5.50 ERA range is a distinct possibility
GMs know this and would probably just go the waiver wire route rather than give anything substantial up
Pretty ignorant to refer to someone as a casual. especially when you have nothing to support your assertion.
Ah the ol’ supporting the assertion thing. It’s always funny when they say that
He’s 28. Pitchers generally lose stuff and velo then, and a pitcher like Flexen is more prone to performance drop with loss of stuff and velo
Please support the assertion.
FWIW Marcel projects Chris Flexen with a 2023 ERA of 3.66, FanGraphs 4.25, Steamer 4.27 and ZiPS 4.23.
Yes. Something around 4.20 to 4.40 is what you would project for Flexen
But some guys, if there’s any drop in stuff/velo at all, they’re basically out of the league. They get rocked
The main metrics to look at when gauging a pitcher is not ERA, WAR etc but the statcast data
For pitchers, the main metrics you can look at are Chase Rate, BB%, Brl% , Hard Hit %, Spin rate. Looking at those 5 things you can measure the loss of “stuff”
You can easily do this just by watching a few seconds of video of Flexen, but these days everyone thinks they have to have “evidence” to support “assertions”
Im not going to bother posting the data but Flexen had significant drops in all of those categories, except the spin rates
Based on steep declines in chase rate, BB%, Brl%, and Hard Hit% you can conclude Flexen lost stuff last year, which will only get worse this year
BB% is up because of decline in stuff. He’s nibbling because he trusts his stuff less and batters are also picking up the ball better. Chase rates are down ,hitters are barrelling up much more pitches and hitting pitches harder
The decline in stuff means the ball is easier to pick up. It’s flatter. Although the spin rates are the same, the type of spin hes getting on the ball is not what it was
The “life” or the “stuff” has to do with the type of spin youre getting
Im sorry, but no legitimate GM would look at the traditional stats. (ERA, WAR, etc.) Theyd either watch video or they would check the statcast data
FWIW here is the data:
Here ARE the data
WAR is related to those stats. It describes how effective was a player. Despite declines in stuff last year which may or may not be predictive of his future, he remained relatively effective compared to others somewhere to the tune of 0.9 to 1.7 WAR over others to which you compared him. GMs absolutely use WAR. Calling it a traditional stat that should be ignored is foolhardy.
Selah Rick 2
So your saying anytime a player’s stats are not as good as the year before there losing it?
This type of poll would be great to do at the beginning of the offseason and then if not traded also this time of year.
Who will/could you do it for next year?
Yes I think they will but probably not before the season starts. I think they’ll keep him as depth, a 6th starter/mop up/backup to start the season in case there’s issues with Miller and Dollard as backups. I thought they would have by now tbh but now I think he gets another look. My guess is Flexen is more in the real of a #4/5 than the #3 he looked like in 2021, but that can still be useful if they need it early in the season. If Miller and/or Dollard are looking good I could see him getting flipped before the deadline. The Mariners actually have a few solid candidates to fill in beyond him, Miller, Dollard, and Hancock too. Also everyone getting excited about Hancock might want to wait. He’s still a bit of an enigma on how his future looks. Miller and Dollard are more projectable at this point. Hancock could still be a solid starter if not a good one, but he has lost a lot of development and has dealt with enough injury that I wouldn’t count on him at all this year, although I do think he gets a call at some point if he’s not hurt.
deGrom Texas Rangers
The rangers need to get on this!
With all of the pitching injuries in baseball, you can never have enough.