After losing out on Hiroki Kuroda (72), it did not take long for the Mariners to turn around and offer the money to another starter, Carlos Silva (75/77). The deal is reportedly for 4 years, $48 million, which is staggering for a pitcher who had a 4.19 ERA and a losing record last season.
In Silva the Mariners are getting a good, though not great, pitcher. He does not walk many batters, but does not strike out many either. He tends to pitch deep in to ballgames, in large part thanks to the high number of strikes he throws. At the press conference, Silva seemed excited to have the chance to pitch in Safeco Field because he believes his style of pitching fits the ballpark much better than his previous home, the Metrodome. In theory, what he says is true, but looking at his home/road splits last year, he was by far better at home. Bavasi at the press conference also talked about how Silva was a big catch, but that rings a little hollow after the team spent a month going after Kuroda, including a visit to Japan. Quite clearly, Silva was not in the M's plans until Kuroda picked the Dodgers.
With that being said, if the Mariners had to spend $48 million on either Kuroda or Silva, I would pick Silva for a couple reasons. First of all, he is five years younger than Kuroda, so the odds of him staying productive for the entire length of the deal are much better. However, on a much more basic level, I think Silva is a little bit better pitcher at this point. The general perception is that Kuroda is a front-line starter, and while that may have been true when he was in his prime, he is not anymore. He is a solid starter, much like Silva.
Ultimately though, it is gut-wrenching watching the Mariners pay $12 million a year for a guy worth approximately $6.2 million according to my pay projector. Silva does upgrade the rotation, but not to the point that paying five and a half MILLION more than fair value is justified. I have quite a bit of faith in Brandon Morrow's (75/86) abilities, and since it was going to take this kind of money to sign a decent starter, I would have taken my chances with him as the fourth starter, and handed the fifth starting position to whoever looked the best out of Ryan Rowland-Smith (73/84), Cha Seung Baek (73/78), R.A. Dickey (64), maybe even Horacio Ramirez (55/62), and maybe even a couple darkhorse candidates, Robert Rohrbaugh (65/82) and Sean White (65/72). Carlos Silva is better than all of these pitchers, but it seems likely to me that someone out of that list is good enough to be a decent starter.
Carlos Silva was not worth $48 million, even to a team like the Mariners that could use him. He will be looked at much like Bavasi's other "big" free agent pitchers, Jarrod Washburn (74) and Miguel Batista (76). All three improve the Mariners, so it is hard to call them bad signings. However, they are all also making way too much money, so it is hard to call them good signings as well.