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M's Talking to Lawrence

Brian LawrenceThe Mariners, in the never-ending quest to try to piece together a starting rotation this year, have fixed their eyes on one more free agent arm, Brian Lawrence. He last pitched with the Nationals in 2005 because he blew out his arm in spring training last year and missed the entire season. The Padres, Rockies, and Pirates are also believed to be interested in this pitcher as well.

I really hope the Mariners are able to sign this guy. Though Lawrence suffered a major arm injury last year he has no history of injuries beforehand, leading me to believe it was a fluke injury, albeit a bad one. Even if his arm never fully recovers it is not as big of a deal for him because he does not rely on velocity heavily. He has never thrown remarkably hard.

Finally, the biggest reason I want the Mariners to sign him is because he was a good pitcher for several years before the injury. In 2005, the year before the injury, Lawrence went 7-15 with a 4.83 ERA, which looks horrible. However, he just had bad luck. Other numbers like his WHIP and home run rate did not spike considerably yet somehow his ERA went up almost a full run. Even using only Lawrence’s 2005 numbers he rated a 3.5. To give an idea of how good that is, Gil Meche rated a 3.7 last year. So, it is conceivable that Brian Lawrence could fully replace Gil Meche, or even be an upgrade.

However, to be fair, I decided to factor in injuries for Lawrence. For argument’s sake I projected him playing only half a season, which I think is rather harsh. Even with Lawrence projected to only play half a season his rating is a 4.3, still making him a better option than Cha-Seung Baek (4.5) or Jake Woods (4.6).

There is no denying Brian Lawrence is a bit of a risky signing thanks to the injury. However, he is only 30 years old and has no prior injury history and, on top of that, he will be a productive starter even if he never fully recovers. With his 4.3 rating he is worth about $3.75 million a year on my scale, so if I were the Mariners I would fully be willing to give him a major league contract. Furthermore, I think no team’s offer on the table to Lawrence even approaches the $3.75 million that I believe is his value on the market. I have not been overly pleased with the Mariners offseason, but signing Brian Lawrence would certainly make me smile.