Rumor/ Report: This time last year, many speculated that the Pittsburgh Pirates would move Mark Melancon and his one remaining year on his contract. Fast-forward to one year later and they are in a similar situation with incumbent closer Tony Watson.
Entering the off-season many fans have speculated that Tony Watson’s time as a Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher could be over. After somewhat struggling as the team’s closer, and Felipe Rivero and Antonio Bastardo representing other left-handed options, Watson could be expendable. Also with only one year remaining it would make sense to get something while you can. The last reason is experts are expecting him to make about six million dollars next season in arbitration. Although this is not a huge chunk of money, with other back-end bullpen options the Pittsburgh Pirates could reinvest that money elsewhere. Well, we at-least hope they would.
Well according to Bob Dutton, the Seattle Mariner’s beat writer for the Tacoma Times, Tony Watson is available saying:
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The trade market is still developing, but one name to watch is Pittsburgh lefty Tony Watson, who is believed to be available. He has one more year of arbitration eligibility remaining after making $3.45 million.
The reason Dutton was talking about this is because he believes Tony Watson could be a target of the Seattle Mariners. Currently the Mariners have been linked to left-handed relief pitchers Boone Logan and Brett Cecil. Both Logan and Cecil are now free agents. Dutton believes that if the Mariners miss out on the top-tier left-handed free agents, they could turn to Watson instead. The expectations is that Cecil will stay with Toronto. This will leave Boone Logan as the top left-handed reliever on the market. Of course this does not include closer Aroldis Chapman. So chances are Logan will get a contract that might be out of the Mariners price range. Thus leaving Watson as their best option.
As Pittsburgh Pirates fans know Tony Watson has been a huge part of the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen. Last year Watson had his worst year since 2012, but it was not all that bad. After back to back sub-2.00 earned run average years, Watson’s ERA went to 3.09. The reason could be because his innings in his previous years started to catch up with him. After throwing 53 innings in 2012, he was asked to throw over 70 innings each of the last three seasons. For comparison, Fernando Rodney a back-end of the bullpen arm has averaged just over 60 innings per year in that same time span.
Even with that Tony Watson has had a really good track record in his career. The 31-year-old pitcher would likely be the top left-handed relief pitcher on the market were he a free agent. Obviously teams would rather sign a free agent before trading players a way to get one. However, once Cecil comes off the market we could see the more Tony Watson rumors swirling.