Among the bolder free agent predictions, some have projected Angels ace John Lackey is headed to the Seattle Mariners this winter in what would be general manager Jack Zduriencik’s first blockbuster signing.
Don’t hold your breath.
The Mariners have already been ‘linked’ to Hideki Matsui, Jason Bay, Orlando Hudson and Jarrod Washburn as the hot stove league warms, and Lackey is the jewel of starting pitchers on the market.
What will he cost? Well, last year right-hander A.J. Burnett, then 31, took his 87-76 record to the free market and was awarded $82.5 million by the New York Yankees.
Lackey, 31, has a 102-71 career record and made $10 million last year. The Angels offered him a five-year, $72 million contract and he passed.
Are the Mariners likely to chase Lackey into the salary range he’s going to command? More important, would it matter?
No and no.
There are reasons Seattle isn’t likely to break the bank on Lackey – including the fact they’d be setting the market for their own ace, Felix Hernandez. And if their one off-season splurge went for pitching, what would happen to what was the worst offense in the league last year?
For argument sake, say the Mariners genuinely wanted Lackey. The question then is, would Lackey come to Seattle?
Sure, Safeco Field is an enticement. But, given the choices Lackey will have, would he really stay in the American League West with the team that scored the fewest runs in the league last year?
The Lackey-to-Seattle rumor will float awhile longer, but the reality is, he’s far more likely to sign with the Yankees or Red Sox – or stay in Los Angeles – than seriously consider a move to the Northwest.
The Mariners, meanwhile, will try to improve that offense and look to lesser pitching names like Rich Harden or Ben Sheets. Mr. Lackey simply isn’t on their radar, and they certainly aren’t on his.