Smith trade could have domino effect
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.