The Mariners would like nothing better than to have the left-handed starting pitcher back, particularly with the recent spate of injuries that has bedeviled the Seattle starting rotation, including left-hander Cliff Lee.
The reality is today finds Washburn back home in Wisconsin, the Mariners struggling to keep their rotation together two weeks before the season starts and Washburn's agent, Scott Boras, hasn't talked with the club in a couple of weeks.
With Lee probably looking at a return around May 1, the addition of Washburn, who spent all but two months of the last four years pitching with Seattle, would be a huge boon to both sides.
So why has nothing being done?
Money. Pure and simple, it's money.
Washburn made just over $10 million last year in the final year of his four-year contract, the last two months of which were spent with Detroit after a trade-deadline deal. The Mariners unloaded about $50 million in salaries starting with the Washburn deal, but much of that went to free agent Chone Figgins, the assumption of Lee's $8 million in salary, the trade for left fielder Milton Bradley and a contract extension (five years, $78 million) for Felix Hernandez.
Seattle insiders say the club has spent just about all the money it has available. Boras doesn't see it that way, saying the Mariners "have about $12 million they could spend from my calculations." Somewhere between zero and $12 million is the real number.
Boras has brought his salary request down from $6 million to $5 million to $4.5 million, but since throwing out that final number about two weeks ago, the two sides haven't talked.
Since then, Lee, the 2008 Cy Young Award winner who was supposed to team with Felix Hernandez to give the Mariners the best 1-2 punch at the top of a rotation in the American League, has suffered a suspension of five games on top of an abdominal strain that has set him back as much as a month.
Various other starting candidates, including Doug Fister (fluid in his right forearm) and lefty Garrett Olson (jammed ring finger), aren't able to pitch and the club is considering giving reliever Shawn Kelley a chance to start just to make sure Seattle is covered come Opening Day.
Washburn struggled early in his Seattle career, but he was 8-6 with a 2.64 ERA that was in the top 10 in the AL with the club last year up to the point of his trade to the Tigers. More than that, with the club competitive and with the clubhouse rejuvenated with the additions of Mike Sweeney and Ken Griffey Jr., Washburn thoroughly enjoyed his final season with Seattle.
But asked what he thinks about the possibility of pitching for the Mariners this year, Washburn responded late Monday in a text that "I don't know a thing."
He is throwing on a regular routine in hopes that he gets a job, and it's possible that he could be ready to join a rotation in three weeks, maybe four, after finding a home.
"It's all about the right situation for Jarrod," Boras said. "He's on the same kind of throwing schedule that other clients have been on when it's taken them a three-to-four week schedule to get ready.
"It has to be the right team and the right situation. He can afford (financially) to act on that principle."
The Mariners might be able to do an Erik Bedard-type contract for Washburn. Bedard, who re-signed for a base salary of $1.5 million that has bonus clauses worth $7 million, is coming back from shoulder surgery and could be pitching in May.
It's not at all clear that Boras would advise his client to take that kind of offer, however.
"We're getting to the point of the spring where some clubs are in panic mode," Boras said. "I have no doubt that Jarrod will be pitching somewhere this season."
Where and when are questions that still need to be answered.