It’s been talked about for weeks now, but the Mariners finally landed Seth Smith from the Padres.
Smith, 32, is coming off what was likely a career year in San Diego where he hit .266/.367/.440 with 31 doubles, 12 home runs and 48 RBI in 443 at-bats.
He isn’t a one-hit wonder, however, as the lefty has a career .265/.347/.453 line, albeit with five seasons spent taking advantage of Colorado’s thin air and only twice garnering more than 400 at bats in a season.
That having been said, his 2014 campaign was very solid. His .807 OPS was the third-best of his career and his best since leaving Coors Field following the 2011 season. His 135 OPS+ was the best mark of his career by a country mile.
Smith – like the rest of the Padres incumbent outfielders – found himself without a position following general manager A.J. Preller’s trading frenzy earlier this month that netted Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, and Wil Myers.
As such, it’s shocking that Preller was able to land a solid piece like Brandon Maurer when he had seemingly no leverage in trade talks.
Maurer, 24, has worked mostly as a starter during his brief big league tenure, but was moved to the bullpen after seven dismal starts in 2014 and posted a very solid 2.17 ERA, .964 WHIP, 38/5 K/BB ratio, and a 9.2 K/9 rate in 37.1 innings.
While it’s just speculation, it’s hard to imagine the Padres would try him in the rotation again and he figures to remain in the bullpen going forward. The lanky, right-hander possesses a four-pitch arsenal which is highlighted by a low-90s fastball and a solid change-up to keep hitters off-balance.
As is the case with nearly every pitcher who has ever plied his trade at Petco, it’s very likely he’ll see a small bump in performance based solely on his new work environment. While not an option out of the gates, he could factor into the closing picture in San Diego somewhere down the line.
In Seattle, Smith figures to get the lion’s share of playing time in a right field platoon with recently-acquired Justin Ruggiano.
Smith has a career .277/.358/.481 line against right handed pitching, with a
Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) of 123. Ruggiano, 32, is no slouch on the other side of the dish, with a .266/.329/.508 against southpaws, with a wRC+ of 128.
The fine folks at BaseballEssential.com pointed out a very interesting fact about Seattle’s new right field duo:
“…if you combine the 133 wRC+ Smith had vs RHP, and the 129 wRC+ Ruggiano had vs LHP in 2014, you come out with the 6th best offensive production any team got from their RF (behind Stanton, Bautista, Puig, Werth, and Kemp).”
Needless to say, that’s a pretty nifty little upgrade for the Mariners.
Obviously, you’d prefer to have an everyday guy in the lineup posting those numbers, but if the Smith/Ruggiano duo can keep in line with their career averages, the Seattle offense could look very potent in 2015.
Another boon for Seattle is that Smith is locked up for at least two more, very affordable seasons thanks to the two-year, $13 million extension he signed last July. He’ll make very reasonable salaries of $6 million in 2015, $6.75 million in 2016, and in 2017 he has a club option where he’ll receive $7 million or a $250,000 buyout.
In the end, I think this trade grades out as a win for both teams.
Seattle has a legitimate answer – and like a very productive one – to one of their outfield holes; and San Diego, who seemingly had zero leverage in the deal, managed to walk away with a solid bullpen piece for a club that could very well contend for a wild card spot.