The Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners have supposedly agreed to yet another trade. The latest of their countless trades is centered around Seattle’s Mike Zunino and the Tampa’s Mallex Smith.
Sources have confirmed to MLB.com that the Tampa Bay Rays and the Seattle Mariners are nearing the completion of a 5 player swap including Rays outfielder Mallex Smith and Seattle’s catcher Mike Zunino.
According to Jeff Passan, the belief at this point, is that the players in the swap have been agreed upon and now it is more about finalizing physicals and sorting out other details.
In addition to Mike Zunino, the Mariners will also send outfielder Guillermo Heredia to Tampa Bay. Each team is expected to also include a minor league player in the deal. The Rays are expected to send a minor league outfielder along with Mallex and the Mariners are expected to send a minor league pitcher along with Zunino and Heredia according to Greg Johns of MLB.com.
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- Tampa Bay Rays catcher Mike Zunino stands out despite low batting average
Zunino was the 3rd overall pick in 2012 and has been with Seattle’s big league club since 2013. The catcher is a career .207 hitter with 95 bombs and an OPS+ of 89. He has a career slugging percentage of .406 and on base percentage of .276.
2017 was a career year for Zunino where he hit .251 and smashed 25 homers while driving in 64 runners. He had a career high OPS+ of 125. His 2018 campaign at the plate was a bit different, he hit .201 but still did crush 20 homers while driving in 44 and posting an OPS+ of 85. The Rays are hoping he can return to his 2017 form in 2019.
Behind the plate, Zunino is as good as it gets. He was recently named the 2018 Wilson Defensive Catcher of the Year. He tied for first among catchers with 12 defensive runs saved and 1.7 dWAR. He also caught 34.6% of runners stealing which ranked 7th among catchers this year.
According to Baseball Reference, Zunino has a career WAR of 6.9 over his 6 year career. In 2017 he posted a career high 3.3 WAR and in 2018 he was good for 1.9 WAR. As for his contract status, the catcher is arbitration eligible in 2019 and 2020 before becoming a free agent in 2021. He is expected to make 4.2 million in his second year of arbitration.
Guillermo Heredia, the 27-year-old right fielder, is also heading to Tampa Bay. Heredia is a career .244 hitter who is not known for his power, only hitting 12 homers over 770 career at-bats. He has a career OPS+ of 83, and won’t reach arbitration eligibility until 2020.
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Unfortunately, Mallex Smith is reportedly headed back to Seattle for a second time. Mallex had a breakout and career year in 2018. The Mallex Effect was in full effect this past season as he hit .296 and posted an OBP of .367, stealing 40 bases. He had a 115 OPS+, a career high. Mallex will return to Seattle where he once was a Mariner for a total of 77 minutes, yes, 77.
2 unnamed prospects will also be swapped. One of those expected to be an outfielder headed to Seattle and the other, a pitcher headed to Tampa Bay.
Stay posted for further updates.