After years of perpetual mediocrity, the Mariners finally decided to take a step back during the 2018-19 offseason, and as a result they haven’t done a whole lot to make their major-league team better over the last couple years. With that said, it does look like they might have enough bright talent to break their nearly-two-decade-long playoff drought at some point during the current decade (big barrier to get over, we know), and they took another step towards solidifying the core of that next competitive club on Monday, announcing a four-year, $30 million extension for lefty starter Marco Gonzales which will kick in for the 2021 season and includes a club option that could keep him in Seattle through the 2025 season. Gonzales is already set to make $1 million for the coming season. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal was the first to report the terms of the deal, which the team announced Monday afternoon:
Terms of Marco Gonzales’ extension with #Mariners, per source: Four years, $30M, starting in 2021, plus a club option for a fifth season. Buys out one year of free agency with possibility of buying out a second. Gonzales already under contract for 2020 at $1M.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 3, 2020
Gonzales, who turns 28 later this month, has developed into one of the majors’ more dependable starters since the Cardinals dealt him for Tyler O’Neill in a prospect-for-prospect swap back in July 2017. The former first-round pick isn’t going to wow you with his stuff, but he’s become exceptionally durable — he was one of seven starters who tied for the major-league lead in games started (34) last season, and he was one of just 15 starters to cross the elusive 200-innings threshold while throwing 203 frames. He also posted arguably the best numbers of his career in 2019, throwing for a 3.99 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP while striking out 147 and walking 56.
Gonzales is expected to headline a 2020 Mariners rotation that will also include Yusei Kikuchi, who is hoping to have a better second season in the big leagues after struggling as a highly-touted rookie, and could also feature Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn, both of whom were acquired in blockbuster trades as the Mariners tore apart their veteran core last offseason. Nestor Cortes, acquired in a minor deal from the Yankees, and free-agent signee Kendall Graveman are also among the candidates to be part of Seattle’s Opening Day starting five.