SEATTLE — Mallex Smith believes in second possibilities, so he’ll fortunately give Mariners common supervisor Jerry Dipoto a move on his first abbreviated stint with Seattle.

The 25-year-old outfielder famous that Dipoto jokingly informed him he’d be a part of the membership “for longer than [77] minutes” after reacquiring the teenager, who the Mariners initially traded for 2 years in the past earlier than instantly flipping him to the Rays within the Drew Smyly deal.

SEATTLE — Mallex Smith believes in second possibilities, so he’ll fortunately give Mariners common supervisor Jerry Dipoto a move on his first abbreviated stint with Seattle.

The 25-year-old outfielder famous that Dipoto jokingly informed him he’d be a part of the membership “for longer than [77] minutes” after reacquiring the teenager, who the Mariners initially traded for 2 years in the past earlier than instantly flipping him to the Rays within the Drew Smyly deal.

This time, the Mariners are bringing on Smith for retains, as he is the centerpiece of a five-player swap that despatched catcher Mike Zunino, outfielder Guillermo Heredia and Minor League left-hander Michael Plassmeyer to the Rays in trade for Smith and Minor League outfielder Jake Fraley.

“It is like they made a mistake and wished me again,” Smith mentioned in a Friday convention name from his offseason dwelling in Tallahassee, Fla., after the commerce turned official. “They slipped up and let me go. It feels good. The workforce wished me, and I actually recognize that.”

The commerce fills the Mariners’ want for a middle fielder and permits Dee Gordon to maneuver again to the infield subsequent season, the place he appeared much more snug in 2018. However it does open the necessity for one more transfer to fill the emptiness at catcher, with rookie backup David Freitas the one remaining backstop on Seattle’s 40-man roster.

Dipoto: Free company not ‘first path’ for Mariners

Thus this figures to simply be the primary domino for Dipoto in what shapes up as a busy offseason. However even the Mariners’ GM took a lighthearted strategy to touchdown a participant whose earlier tie to Seattle was measured in minutes.

“Bringing Mallex again dwelling to Seattle is thrilling for us all,” Dipoto mentioned. “His mixture of pace, baserunning influence, protection and on-base skills are distinctive in right this moment’s recreation. We imagine his breakout 2018 efficiency displays the various methods his expertise will positively influence the Mariners for years to come back.”

Smith put up a .296/.367/.406 line with a league-leading 10 triples whereas additionally stealing 40 bases for the Rays in 141 video games in his first season as a daily starter. He has yet one more 12 months earlier than reaching arbitration and will not grow to be a free agent till 2023.

Dipoto can be intrigued by Fraley, a 23-year-old who posted a .347/.415/.547 line with 4 homers, 41 RBIs and 11 stolen bases in 66 video games for the Rays’ Class A Superior affiliate Charlotte final 12 months and provides outfield depth to the Mariners’ farm system.

“Jake Fraley displays a equally thrilling set of athletic and baseball expertise,” Dipoto mentioned. “His offensive recreation blossomed in 2018 and creates an thrilling profile when coupled along with his distinctive protection and total instincts. Each gamers match our need to construct a youthful, extra athletic and thrilling roster.”

Giving up Zunino wasn’t simple, nevertheless. The 27-year-old has been Seattle’s beginning backstop for a lot of the previous 5 seasons after being chosen with the third total choose within the 2012 Draft out of Florida.

Video: Zunino discusses becoming a member of Rays after commerce

Zunino’s offense took a dip final 12 months as he posted a .201/.259/.410 line with 20 dwelling runs and 44 RBIs in 113 video games, however he was named the Wilson Defensive Participant of the 12 months on Thursday as MLB’s high defensive catcher, and he is been one of many recreation’s premier energy hitters at his place the previous two seasons.

Zunino admitted he was shocked by the deal, however he understood it as soon as actuality set in as he landed with a membership near his dwelling in Gainesville, Fla.

“I had a dialog not even every week in the past with [Mariners manager Scott] Servais simply speaking in regards to the offseason and stuff like that,” Zunino mentioned. “So when this popped up, it was extraordinarily shocking. However as soon as all the things received laid out, you recognize Jerry [Dipoto] has a imaginative and prescient, and I simply thank these guys for the way they handled me over the previous couple of years.”

Dipoto’s plan figures to unfold with additional strikes, however Smith fills a transparent void in heart discipline. Gordon opened final season in heart, although he shifted again to his pure second-base spot when Robinson Cano was suspended for 80 video games. Gordon additionally crammed in properly at shortstop for seven video games whereas Jean Segura was sidelined later within the 12 months, so he might play both of these positions going ahead.

“Our desire could be that Dee performs the infield, as a result of that is what he does greatest,” Dipoto informed MLB.com on Thursday on the GM Conferences in Carlsbad, Calif.

For his half, Smith is keen to play with Gordon, a fellow Florida native who employs an identical pace recreation.

“Me and Dee have a great off-the-field relationship, so it’ll positively be a pleasure to play with him and be taught from him,” Smith mentioned. “He is nonetheless my elder and has finished some issues I have never finished in my profession. I will positively be taught from him.”

Zunino has two extra seasons of arbitration eligibility earlier than changing into a free agent in 2021, and he made $2.975 million final season, with a increase anticipated to push his wage above $four million subsequent 12 months.

Smith made the MLB minimal of $550,000 final 12 months. With 4 years of workforce management earlier than he’ll attain free company, he suits Dipoto’s imaginative and prescient of constructing across the youthful core of Mitch Haniger, Marco Gonzales, Edwin Diaz and others who’ll be with the membership at the least one other 4 to 5 years.

Zunino was excellent within the clubhouse and dealing with pitchers, however Smith is properly revered as properly and mentioned his proudest accomplishment in his breakout season final 12 months was being named the Rays’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award.

“I really feel prefer it’s a great match,” Smith mentioned. “It is very snug when the workforce needs you. Jerry has traded for me twice. I feel I will slot in properly.”

Heredia hit .236/.318/.342 in 125 video games final 12 months. The 27-year-old Cuban is a robust defender, however he struggled on the plate when given intensive enjoying time. Like Smith, he has yet one more season earlier than reaching arbitration and 4 remaining years of membership management.

Plasssmeyer, 22, had a 2.25 ERA in 24 innings over 13 video games (12 begins) for Class A Brief-Season Everett after being drafted within the fourth spherical by the Mariners in June.

Greg Johns has lined the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Observe him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.



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