Reports are out for the Mariners first move during hot stove Mike Zunino and Guillermo Heredia will be traded to the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Mallex Smith. Each team will exchange minor league players as well.
This all reported after Zunino received the Wilson Award as the best defensive catcher in baseball. Jerry Dipoto is willing to make any trades he feels should improve the Mariners. Though he is a top notch receiver he hasn’t been able to do the same at the plate. He has been able to hit at least 20 home runs a season but his batting average has been around the .200 mark. In 2017 he did have a period where he hit well and batted in the .250 mark. If he was able to hit around that mark or somewhere between .200 and .250 like say .230 he would still be a Mariner.
Guillermo Heredia the Mariners felt was disposal as well since he hit .238 over the last season though he was close to .300 early on in the season. He showed he was really made to be a part-time player though he was among the best defensively especially in left field. If he would have stayed with the Mariners he would have platooned in left field with Ben Gamel and on occasion in center field.
Mallex Smith who is expected to be the center fielder for the Mariners had a good rookie season with the Rays. He previous had been with the Mariners for a short period like 77 minutes when they acquired Drew Smyly a couple years ago. The Mariners had picked him up from the Atlanta Braves before him along. He had a .296 batting average this last season with the Rays with a .367 on-base percentage. Also he stole 40 bases as well. He could be what the Mariners were hoping for Dee Gordon in center field well as the lead-off hitter since he is able to walk. If he is the lead-off hitter for the Mariners they may move Mitch Haniger to clean up in place of Nelson Cruz. We are not sure at this time whether the Mariners will have Cruz return. This move will show Dee Gordon will be back at second base if they don’t trade him away. This is the case Robinson Cano will be at first base along with spending time at dh. Another question does it mean the Mariners will trade Ryon Healy. There was talk Kansas City was interested in Healy. If Healy does return with the Mariners he could spend time at first base and dh as well. The question to is where does this leave Daniel Vogelbach. Will he be the dh against right handed pitching or he be traded as well.
Right now the Mariners will have one catcher in David Freitas so they will need to pick up another catcher. The question to will they sign a catcher in free agency or pick one up in a trade. Right now they don’t have anyone else ready in the minor leagues. They could pick up a catcher that shares the spot with Freitas as well. In this case I would like to see them get a left handed hitting catch. They did have one in Chris Herrmann before releasing him. So the questions do continue for the Mariners and they could be answered real soon.
This week the Mariner’s sign Paul Davis as pitching coach. He had been working with the St. Louis farm system with the pitchers for the past five years so Marco Gonzales is familiar with him. He is known for his knowledge of analytics which is what Jerry Dipoto and Scott Servais were looking for. Now we have to see who they make as hitting coach in place of Edgar Martinez who will continue with the organization except in another capacity. He will spend time with the major league hitters when the Mariners at home and will work with hitters throughout the organization on an individual basis. This will allow him to spend time with his wife and children.
There were reports that the Mariners would retool the organization and the only players not up for trade talks would be Mitch Haniger, Edwin Diaz and Marco Gonzales. In a manner of speaking it is true but they won’t do a total makeover. Dipoto will look at trade request from other teams about the Mariner players but not necessarily trade as many as possible.
There is likelihood the Mariners won’t be able to trade Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano because of their contracts. The Mariners could release Felix though they would have to pay off his last year of contract that stands around $27 million. No one likely take Cano’s contract either.
Hard to know whether anyone would take Kyle Seager after the down season he just had unless the Mariners pay partial of his salary. Another high salary guy is pitcher Mike Leake. Not sure what the Mariners could get for him either except some prospects but they probably wouldn’t be high enough to warrant trading him.
Shortstop Jean Segura has a no-trade clause in his contract so likely won’t be traded unless he accepts a trade. Not really sure what the Mariners could get for him for the right value. Mike Zunino may be the right guy to trade at this time but what they could get for him is in question as well. The Mariners don’t have anyone else can catch on a regular basis unless they can acquire another catcher in return or sign a free agent. James Paxton could have the highest return where they could get a couple major league ready players and a prospect like they did when they traded TaiJuan Walker to Arizona for Segura and Haniger. It will be interesting to see what Dipoto can pull off.
The Mariners will need to sign or trade for an outfielder especially one can play in center field. This could allow Dee Gordon be at second base pretty much full-time with a possible occasional time in center field. The Mariners then would have to use Robinson Cano at first base and dh. The question is still whether they plan to bring back Nelson Cruz or not.
Currently Dipoto is at the general manager meeting this week so a trade could happen anytime and again later this month or in December. I don’t expect he will wait until January to make any trades unless they are minor ones. Interesting on the hot stove league; we hope answers will happen soon.