Seattle Mariners announced today from the Major League Baseball General Manager Meetings that the Mariners have acquired outfielder Mallex Smith and minor league outfielder Jake Fraley from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for catcher Mike Zunino, outfielder Guillermo Heredia and minor league left-handed pitcher Michael Plassmeyer.
“Bringing Mallex back home to Seattle is exciting for us all,” Dipoto said. “His combination of speed, base running impact, defense and on-base abilities are unique in today’s game. We believe his breakout 2018 performance reflects the many ways his skills will positively impact the Mariners for years to come. Jake Fraley exhibits a similarly exciting set of athletic and baseball skills. His offensive game blossomed in 2018 and creates an exciting profile when coupled with his exceptional defense and overall instincts. Both players fit our desire to build a younger, more athletic and exciting roster.”
Smith, 25, hit .296 (142×480) with 27 doubles, 10 triples, 2 home runs and 40 RBI with Tampa Bay in 2018. He appeared in 141 games, 127 starts (62-CF, 42-RF, 23-LF) despite missing 8 games on the disabled list (Aug. 25-Sept. 2) with a viral infection. Smith’s .296 average ranked 11th in the American League, and his 10 triples tied for the AL lead (Yolmer Sánchez, CWS). He ranked third in the Majors with 40 stolen bases, behind only Whit Merrifield (45 with KC) and Trea Turner (43 with WASH).
Smith moved into the leadoff spot with the Rays on Aug. 5 and from that point through season’s end, hit .304 (52×171) with a .374 OBP and a .398 slugging percentage with 9 doubles, 2 triples, 1 home run, 14 RBI and 18 steals in 41 games (all starts). He won the club’s Paul C. Smith Champion Award, given to the player who best exemplifies the spirit of true professionalism on and off the field and was selected as the Rays nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award.
Smith made his MLB debut with the Atlanta Braves in 2016, appearing in 72 games. He was traded from Atlanta to Seattle on Jan. 11, 2017 but was a Mariner very briefly before being traded to Tampa Bay later in the day as part of a four-player deal in which Seattle acquired LHP Drew Smyly. He played in 81 games with the Rays in 2017 and hit .270 (69×256) with 8 doubles, 4 triples, 2 home runs, 12 RBI and 16 stolen bases.
Fraley, 23, spent the 2018 season with the Charlotte Stone Crabs in the High-A Florida State League. He hit .347 (78×225) with 19 doubles, 7 triples, 4 home runs and 41 RBI in 66 games. He boasted a .415 on-base percentage and a .547 slugging percentage (.962 OPS). Fraley was on the minor league disabled list from April 2 to June 7 with ‘turf toe” (sprained left big toe).
In three minor league seasons, Fraley has hit .278 (150×540) with 34 doubles, 15 triples, 7 home runs and 73 RBI in 151 games at three levels. He was the Rays second round selection in the 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of LSU.
Zunino, 27, batted .201 (75×373) with 20 home runs and 44 runs batted in over 113 games with the Mariners in 2018. He scored 37 runs, had 18 doubles and 24 walks while striking out 150 times. Yesterday he was named the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year at catcher. He was originally drafted by Seattle with its first round selection (3rd overall) in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft and has spent his entire Major League career with the club. In parts of six big league seasons (2013-2018) he’s a .207 (391×1885) career hitter with 86 doubles, 2 triples, 95 home runs and 241 RBI in 587 career games.
Heredia, 27, hit .236 (69×292) with 14 doubles, 1 triple, 5 home runs and 19 RBI in 125 games with Seattle last season in three separate stints (Opening Day – April 22; May 1-Aug. 19 & Aug. 27-end of season). Heredia was one of five qualifying MLB outfielders to post a 1.000 fielding percentage last season (222 total chances). Heredia was originally signed by Seattle as a Major League free agent on March 1, 2016 after playing six seasons in Cuba. In parts of three big league seasons (2016-18), he’s hit .244 (188×770) with 33 doubles, 1 triple, 12 home runs and 55 RBI in 293 career games.
Plassmeyer, 22, went 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA (6 ER, 24.0 IP) in 13 games, 12 starts in his first professional season with Short-A Everett in 2018. The left-handed starter limited opponents to a .182 (16×88) average, while walking 4 and striking out 44 over 24.0 innings. He was 1 of 4 AquaSox players to represent the Northern Division in the Northwest League All-Star game. Plassmeyer was selected by Seattle in the 4th round in the 2018 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Missouri.
SMITH’s PLAYING RECORD