The Mariners have had a busy winter, having already signed Robinson Cano and Corey Hart, and trading for outfielder/first baseman Logan Morrison. Now, they appear to be shifting their focus to the rotation.
In Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, the M's have a solid one-two punch at the front-end of their pitching sequence, but from three to five, Seattle saw mixed results in 2013. They leaned on veterans Joe Saunders and Aaron Harang for the better part of the season, but both pitchers finished the year with ERAs over five.
However, some promising talent emerged from the Mariners' farm system toward the end of the year. Taijuan Walker and James Paxton saw early success in their abbreviated stints with the club, and could be featured in Seattle's rotation in 2014 thanks to their favorable results. Both players consistently appeared on top prospect lists before graduating from the minors last year.
Santana was traded to the Royals prior to the 2013 season and rewarded his new club by cruising to a 3.24 ERA in 32 starts. The timing for a bounce back couldn't have been better for the nine-year veteran. As a result, he could earn a significant payday in a market that has valued durable starting pitchers at a premium. Earlier in the offseason, Santana was reportedly seeking a five-year, $100 million deal. He could have trouble reaching such a lofty goal, especially with draft pick compensation attached to his price tag, but he's also one of the most talented players remaining on the open market. Santana declined the Royals' qualifying offer in November, meaning any team -- other than the Royals -- that wishes to sign him must surrender a conditional draft pick to do so.
If Seattle decides to continue their offseason extravagance, signing Santana could fortify their pitching staff, giving them a nice mix of prospects and veterans in the rotation.