The free agency heavy hitters still haven’t signed on Monday, but that hasn’t stopped the Seattle Mariners from adding some punch to their roster.
M’s trade with the Reds for All-Star sluggers Winker, Suárez
Seattle picked up Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez in a blockbuster trade with the Reds in the afternoon, sending a package of pitching prospect Brandon Williamson, outfielder Jake Fraley, pitcher Justin Dunn and either a player who will be named later, or money in Cincinnati in return.
The additions give Seattle a regular third baseman and left fielder, and more importantly, plenty of power.
Here are the breakdowns for each of the two new Mariners.
Jesse Winker, LF
When Mariners general manager and president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto spoke with Seattle Sports’ Mike Salk last Friday, one of his priorities was a “left-handed element” for the roster. When looking to fit that bill, Winker just might be one of the best options there is in baseball.
Winker’s lanky 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame doesn’t look all that different from Shohei Ohtani’s in the batting box, and while you shouldn’t expect the same MVP-like numbers as Ohtani set up in 2021 on Winker, he’s not as far off as you might think. Well, against right-handed throwing, at least.
Winker crushed right-handers in 2021, posting a .346/.428/.642 slant line for a whopping 1,070 OPS in 367 plate appearances. He hit 21 of 24 home runs, 30 of 32 doubles and his only triple against right-handers, and as highlighted by ESPN’s Jeff Passanthat skill set has a lot of value for the Mariners in an American League West that features a lot of right-handed throwing.
Why does Jesse Winker have all the sense in the world for Seattle? He has been destroying right-handers for the past two years. And in an AL West that is particularly heavy with RHP, he looks awfully good in the middle of the Mariners formation. Huge luck as Seattle prepares for the future. pic.twitter.com/KxvIYVbAal
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 14, 2022
Yes, that means Winker numbers against lefties (.177/.288/.284) need a lot of work. But even so, he finished the year overall with a .305/.394/.556 slash for a .949 OPS against all pitchers, underscoring how elite of a hitter he is against the pitchers. right-handers, which is the majority of pitchers. he will see.
A 2012 first-round pick from Orlando, Fla., Winker had a first-half breakthrough for the Reds last season (.301/.382/.539, .922 OPS, 19 home runs) to earn his first All-Star nomination. He actually got off to a better start in the second half, but it was cut short by intercostal strain and he played just 28 games after the All-Star break.
Injuries played a major role in his five-year MLB career, as he never played more than 113 games in a season. But when he’s healthy, he strikes. In 413 career games, he has a .288/.385/.556 slash for an .888 OPS. His presence will do a lot for a Mariners team that won 90 games despite having just two players with an OPS above .800 last season, the highest being Ty France’s .813.
If you’re worried about the Mariners adding Winker and not Kris Bryant or Trevor Story, there are a few things that might ease your worries. Winker is younger than both at 28 (Bryant is 30, Story is 29), and neither of those other players has posted OPS in a season as high as Winker’s. career OPS since 2019. He is also under the club’s control until 2023, with his final year in refereeing scheduled for next season.
One more thing: Winker likes to shoot the ball, and the Mariners have a short porch in right field. This may be the ideal solution.
WESSE. TURN SIGNAL. pic.twitter.com/eKIb8p5qPY
– Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) June 6, 2021
Eugenio Suarez, 3B
The Mariners found themselves with a Kyle Seager-shaped hole when the legendary third baseman hit free agency and then retired this offseason. His power, solid defense and leadership in the clubhouse were all Seattle needed to replace. Someone was also needed to take charge of the hot corner.
Suárez may not tick all of those boxes, but he does tick a few. He’s also a former All-Star with rebound potential.
The 2021 season hasn’t been Suárez’s best, but honestly, it wasn’t far off what Seager did last year either. The Venezuela native cut just 0.198/0.286/0.428 for a 0.713 OPS in 145 games, hitting 31 homers and making 79 carries. Seager was at least over the Mendoza line, slashing .212/.285/.438 for a .723 OPS with 35 home runs and 101 RBIs.
— Bally Sports Cincinnati (@BallySportsCIN) July 6, 2021
It’s understandable not to be so encouraged by what Suárez did last year, but there are other things to consider. The biggest factor is that he had shoulder surgery in 2020 and that seemed to hold him back for much of 2021. The good news is that something clicked in the last month of the season, signaling that his shoulder problems may be behind him. In his last 25 games, he’s reduced .370/.460/.808 for a ridiculous 1.268 OPS with eight home runs, eight doubles and 13 RBIs. He also walked 11 times for 22 strikeouts, which was an improvement from 45 walks to 149 strikeouts in the previous 120 games.
Now back to this rebound potential. Suárez isn’t that far off his greatest season, a 2019 campaign where he hit 49 homers to go along with a .271/.358/.572 slash and 103 RBIs. And yes, that also came with an MLB-leading 189 strikeouts, but that’s a pretty easy pill to swallow if it comes with a .930 OPS. Suárez also had a big year in 2018, with 34 homers, 104 RBIs and .892 OPS.
Eugenio Suárez hit 49 HR in 2019!
That is to say…
💥 a new career high
💥 the most ever achieved by a NL 3B
💥 the most ever made by a Venezuelan
💥 tied for 2nd highest total by a red
💥 9 each against CHC and MIL
💥 25 hits on the road
💥 best month: 12 in July
💥 15 in 1st round pic.twitter.com/qBZlZ6DfLf
– Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) September 30, 2019
The 5-foot-11, 213-pound infielder has some positional flexibility, although that wouldn’t excite me too much. He’s played 217 career games at shortstop to 769 at third, including 34 at short last year, but his future is likely in jeopardy going forward.
Suárez is signed until 2024, earning $11 million each year, with the Ms now holding a $15 million club option for 2025, according to Spotrac.
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