In 2013 the Mariners had 2 pitchers (Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma) account for 61.4% of the WAR accrued by the entire pitching staff. If you strip away relievers and count only pitchers who started a game then that number goes up to 80.3%.
In one respect, this could be viewed as a positive. Having 2 starting pitchers accrue 10+ WAR is a fantastic beginning of a quality rotation. Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma aren't just good relative to the schmucks they've shared a laundry bin with but also relative the entirety of professional baseball.
The problem here is that pitchers are a fickle crop. From year to year many conditions must align just so in order for substantial production to take place. As such and if you'll pardon the atrocious mixing of metaphors it's bet to diversify your holdings.
None of this new to you. On the offseason shopping list "starting pitching" should have been written in flashing, bold, italicized and underlined Comic Sans. Yet the Mariners have, whether through incompetence or an abundance of caution, stood by as pitcher after pitcher after pitcher after pitcher has signed with another team.
Well now here we are. The oncoming storm of the 2014 season is approaching. The Mariners have sat inside and watched True Detective (That's a show. It's quite good from what I am told.) while the bread shelves have emptied. The stores are fresh out of bread. The only choices remaining them is deciding that the storehouse has enough supply or pay the exorbitant cost of the black market.
Ervin Santana is the last loaf of bread available in the city. His agent knows the Mariners need him. He also knows the Mariners are rich. This is an impasse until someone either lowers the cost or raises the amount they are willing to spend.
The question is how much for how long? Read Scott's thoughts on Santana and then answer me and answer me well.