Smith trade could have domino ef­fect

Tri-City Herald - - Scoreboard - BY TJ COTTERILL tcot­ter­ill@the­new­stri­bune.com

Mallex Smith has al­ready been a Seat­tle Mariner – for 77 min­utes.

That was be­fore the

2017 sea­son, and as fast as Jerry Dipoto ac­quired him from the Braves he then traded him to the Rays for pitcher Drew Smyly.

So Smith was asked just how long he fig­ures the Mariners will keep him around this time.

“You know, Dipoto didn’t guar­an­tee me any­thing,” Smith said. “He did say I’ll at least have 78 min­utes, so we’ll see.”

The Mariners ac­quired Smith and out­field prospect Jake Fra­ley, a for­mer sec­ond-round draft pick, from the Rays on Thurs­day in ex­change for catcher Mike Zunino, out­fielder Guillermo Here­dia and pitch­ing prospect Michael Plass­meyer.

What the Mariners lost in Zunino they gained in a young, fast and ath­letic out­fielder who won’t be a free agent un­til 2023.

Smith played all three out­field po­si­tions in a break­out 2018 sea­son for the Rays. In his first full big-league sea­son the

25-year-old bat­ted .296/

.367/.406, led the Amer­i­can League with 10 triples, hit 27 dou­bles and stole 40 bases.

“It just shows you they made a mis­take and wanted me back,” Smith joked. “But, no, it feels good. The team wanted me enough to come get me again, so I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate that.”

He said he’s ex­pect­ing to be the Mariners’ next cen­ter fielder one year af­ter the Mariners ac­quired Dee Gor­don from the Mar­lins to con­vert him from a Gold Glove sec­ond base­man to cen­ter field (a po­si­tion he’d never be­fore played in the big leagues).

So ex­pect a domino ef­fect with this trade.

Dipoto told re­porters at the gen­eral man­agers meet­ings in Carls­bad, Cal­i­for­nia, this week that he pre­ferred Gor­don move back to the in­field next sea­son – some­thing he said be­fore the trade for Smith be­came official.

“We’ve al­ready talked to Dee, but the hope is we’ll have cre­ated some so­lu­tion by the time our ros­ter starts to de­velop,” Dipoto said. “Dee is one of our most ath­letic and ver­sa­tile play­ers, so we know there are po­ten­tial out­comes that ex­ist for him play­ing other po­si­tions. We don’t know what that is yet.

“Our pref­er­ence would be that he plays the in­field be­cause that’s what he does best.”

But that means they’ll need to move ei­ther Jean Se­gura or Robin­son Cano from the mid­dle in­field. Maybe they look to trade Se­gura, even though he has a no-trade clause, and play Gor­don at short­stop, a po­si­tion he played in the mi­nors. Or Cano is con­verted to more du­ties at first base and des­ig­nated hit­ter so Gor­don can play sec­ond.

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