3 pitching targets on Seattle Mariners for KC Royals

Seattle is looking to add Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and the addition could give the Mariners a starting pitcher surplus. Could the Royals capitalize and improve their rotation?

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
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Logan Gilbert seems a long shot for the Royals.

Logan Gilbert is the name that seems to be floating around the rumor mill the most in recent days. Gilbert is a 26-year-old starter with a 96 MPH four-seam fastball that appeals to a lot of baseball fans' expectations of what an ace pitcher does. He throws hard and fast, and he certainly hits the strikeout quota, which will get many fans excited.

He also does a great job of keeping the baseball in the ballpark, with a 1.37 HR/9. Gilbert is entering arbitration for the first time but comes with four full years of control—an extremely appealing fact, even if it means he will cost progressively more over each of the next four years.

From Kansas City's perspective, the most appealing characteristic about Gilbert is the variety of pitches in his arsenal. While many will focus on his above-average fastball velocity, Gilbert has a good handle on controlling speed variation among his pitches. Gilbert’s curveball is a pitch that batters tend to lay off, knowing it’ll result in a fly ball out. His slider and splitter are both on the faster side and deceptively resemble his four-seamer out of his hand. As such, these two pitches also generate an above-average number of fly balls.

In addition, Gilbert started introducing a 94 MPH sinker into his repertoire towards the end of 2023. The Royals have had great success with sinker pitchers producing fly balls or ground outs. As he ages, his pitch variation should age well into a controlled contact style, and his fly ball results would certainly age well at Kauffman Stadium.

The trouble with Gilbert is that he’s currently a core member of the Mariner's rotation. Gilbert’s ability to go deep into games the last two seasons and pitch 375.4 innings would be difficult for a team like the Mariners to give up, and the cost would likely be extremely high for the Royals.

With four years of control remaining on his contract and a strong cast of pitchers already in place, it’s hard to believe the Mariners would part with Gilbert. However, Gilbert is 26 years old, which makes him the oldest of their core starters. If the Mariners sign Yamamoto, Gilbert is probably on the table. If they do not, expect him to remain in Seattle's rotation and possibly be their Opening Day starter.