Mariner grad Mike Zunino traded from Seattle Mariners to the Tampa Bay Rays

Mariner grad Mike Zunino traded from Seattle Mariners to the Tampa Bay Rays
Mariners get Mallex Smith in 5-player trade with Rays
“THIS. GAME. IS. OVERRRR!” was heard through the Seattle Mariners airwaves as Mike Zunino shattered Edgar’s sign over the left field fence on a 2-out fastball. The fans that remained at Safeco Field saw a magical moment.

In hindsight, it was the last walk-off home run Mike Zunino would hit in a Mariners uniform. Jerry Dipoto shipped Zunino and outfielder Guillermo Heredia to the Rays in return for OF Mallex Smith Wednesday afternoon. And while the Mariners will begin their search for a new catcher, fans will miss Zunino’s skills behind the plate.

The Rays sent Smith and minor league outfielder Jake Fraley to Seattle in exchange for catcher Mike Zunino, outfielder Guillermo Heredia and minor league left-handed pitcher Michael Plassmeyer.

Despite his expertise as a catcher, he will be widely remembered for his offensive struggles, most recently in 2018. A hot month of September lifted Zunino to a slash line of .201/.259/.410, just above the dreaded Mendoza line. Unfortunately, these numbers are not out of the ordinary. A massive bounce-back year just isn’t likely, as his career numbers are .207/.276/.406.

Smith, 25, stole a career-best 40 bases this year for the Tampa Bay Rays. He hit .296, tied for the major league lead with 10 triples and had 40 RBIs.

Offensive catchers are hard to come by. I get it. It is exactly why I am not here to slam his batting. In fact, his power is extremely valuable in addition to his defense, making him a strong replacement for Wilson Ramos in Tampa Bay.

The Braves traded him to the Mariners in a deal that bought left-handed pitcher Luiz Gohara to the Braves. 

I am here to praise Mike Zunino and his efforts in Seattle. The man is a walking backstop. His ability to work with pitchers and call games will be missed. A class act player like Zunino will be hard to replace, regardless of whom the Mariners sign to replace him this winter.

We thank you for the 575 games you suited up for in a Mariners uniform. We thank you for more than the 95 home runs you hit, but for the 40 defensive runs, you saved behind the plate. And most importantly, we wish you luck in Tampa Bay, where you will represent a team that is just 113 miles from your hometown of Cape Coral.

Zunino, who regressed to a .201/.259/.410 slash line with 20 homers over 113 games last year, on Wednesday won the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award at catcher. He struggled through an injury-plagued season in which he was placed on the disabled list separately for a strained left oblique and a left ankle bone bruise. Zunino is eligible for salary arbitration for the second time this year, and he will become a free agent after the 2020 season.

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These teams have a lengthy transaction history, as this marks their eighth trade since Dipoto was hired in September 2015. The most recent deal between the two was last May 25, when the Rays sent closer Alex Colome and veteran outfielder Denard Span to Seattle for Minor League right-hander Tommy Romero and righty Andrew Moore.

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These teams have a lengthy transaction history, as this marks their eighth trade since Dipoto was hired in September 2015. The most recent deal between the two was last May 25, when the Rays sent closer Alex Colome and veteran outfielder Denard Span to Seattle for Minor League right-hander Tommy Romero and righty Andrew Moore.

The Mariners on Thursday announced that they have acquired the veteran outfielder and minor-league outfielder Jake Fraley from the Rays.


Posted in Cape Coral