Marco Gonzales Provides Rotation Depth

Lefthander Marco Gonzales believes the stiff competition that blocked his return to the big leagues with the Cardinals could prove beneficial now that he’s trying to pitch his way into the Mariners’ rotation.

“I think that is something that is really going to help me going forward,” said Gonazales, 25. “I hope I can keep that competitive edge while I’m here. I am going to pitch like I have something to prove because I do.”

The Mariners acquired Gonzales from the Cardinals in a July 21 trade for Triple-A outfielder Tyler O’Neill. The trade addresses an area of need for Seattle (starting pitching) by dealing from an area of depth (outfielders).

O’Neill entered the season ranked as the Mariners’ No. 2 prospect, but club officials deemed him expendable because of the emergence this season of Ben GamelMitch Haniger and Guillermo Heredia at the major league level.

One club official also likened O’Neill to Mark Trumbo, a noted power hitter whom general manager Jerry Dipoto traded on two previous occasions because he didn’t fit the preferred profile for athletic players with proven on-base skills.

True or not, the Mariners wanted to lengthen their stable of rotation candidates, and Gonzales, a 2013 first-rounder from Gonzaga, addressed that need.

“We feel he fits our roster well in both the near and long term,” Dipoto said.”We find his current performance, preparedness and proximity to the major leagues to be very appealing.”

That proximity is a key factor, for while Gonzales is controllable through arbitration through 2023, he will be out of minor league options after this year. In short, the Mariners are clearly projecting him to be part of next year’s rotation.

That promotion could come a lot sooner.

The knock on Gonzales, whom the Mariners optioned to Triple-A Tacoma, is his injury history. He missed time in 2015 due to left pectoral injury, and he missed all of last season after having Tommy John surgery.

His recovery this season, to date, is encouraging. Gonzales went 8-4, 3.02 through 14 starts this season, striking out 73 and walking 22 in 86.1 innings.

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