Looking At The Upside Of Mallex Smith & Mike Zunino After Reports Surface Of A Deal

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It appears that the first “significant” move of the 2018-2019 offseason has come to fruition, and with rumors swirling of a rebuild brewing in Seattle it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Mariners were involved.  The deal is still pending physicals at the time of this writing, but the details appear to be:

  • The Mariners Get – OF Mallex Smith, OF Jake Fraley
  • The Rays Get – C Mike Zunino, OF Guillermo Heredia, LHP Michael Plassmeyer

When it comes to the fantasy implications it comes down to Smith and Zunino, so let’s take a look:

 

The Mariners Fallout
The addition of Smith is interesting, as the team already owns a dynamic top of the order duo in Dee Gordon and Jean Segura.  Of course one, or both, could be moved later on in the offseason so we’ll have to wait and see exactly how the lineup shakes out.  If everything stays as is it would appear that Robinson Cano is headed either to first base or taking over as the full-time DH, with Gordon shifting back to 2B and Smith taking over as the starting CF.

Today that’s all speculation, but we know Smith is now in Seattle coming off what can be considered a breakout campaign.  Finally slotted in as a full-time player he hit .296 with 2 HR, 40 RBI, 65 R and 40 SB over 544 PA.  There are some concerns in his approach (11.5% SwStr%), and while he did “improve” from 2017 he struggled to make consistent contact against all types of pitches (including an 11.60% Whiff% against hard pitches).  That’ll be something to watch, especially as a player who profiles as a top of the order threat.  The left-handed hitter did show an ability to be a full-time player:

  • RHP – .285/.362/.399
  • LHP – .337/.384/.433

While he struggled on the road (.244), it’s not like he called an offensive haven home so it’s easy to overlook.  The risk of a rise in strikeouts could lead to him being a two-category performer, and maybe even a one-trick pony if he’s not hitting atop the order.  That’ll be something to watch, but time will tell.

 

The Rays Fallout
Wilson Ramos is a free agent so we knew the Rays would be looking to add a catcher.  Whether or not Zunino is a solid addition, though, is up for debate.  He’s coming off a year where he hit .201 with 20 HR over 405 PA.  Sure he hit the ball hard (39.6% Hard%), but there are key numbers that indicate he may never hit for a good average:

  • Strikeouts – 37.0%
  • Pull% – 58.7%

The Pull% was extreme (50.2% for his career), but regardless it shows that he’s going to be prone to the shift.  The strikeouts have been a consistent issue, with a 34.2% career mark, and his 17.5% SwStr% doesn’t indicate much potential for improvement.  Looking at his Whiff% by pitch type doesn’t offer much appeal either:

  • Hard – 16.55%
  • Breaking Ball – 21.03%
  • Offspeed – 27.27%

Sure he’ll chip in some power, but he’s not Joey Gallo and as a catcher he’s consistently going to need days off.  Does that sound appealing?

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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Make sure to check out all of our 2019 projections:

Player
Date Posted
Dylan Bundy10/22/18
Foltynewicz, Mike10/09/18
Gibson, Kyle10/29/18
Hoskins, Rhys10/16/18
Hosmer, Eric11/05/18
Wheeler, Zack10/02/18

One comment

  1. dude says:

    Maybe TB sees what you see and thought trading Smith was addition by subtraction? Seems like it opens up a starting spot for Meadows?

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