Earlier toady the Mariners traded away the man who was set to be the team’s backup, backup catcher in 2017 to the Tampa Rays for a player to be named later. Was this a wise move and was Sucre’s presence and impact on the M’s undervalued?
With the moves that Mariners GM, Jerry Dipoto, made over the offseason -moving Mike Zunino back to the number one spot behind the plate and bringing veteran catcher, Carlos Ruiz, in from the Los Angeles Dodgers- Sucre was put in a difficult spot as the odd man out.
But, that’s always been the case for Sucre since he arrived in Seattle back in 2011 from the Atlanta Braves.
Since joining the Mariners, Sucre worked very hard to make it up to the big leagues. Aside from only playing in the summer months with the M’s Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, Sucre took part in Arizona League rookie ball in 2013 as well as playing winter baseball in his home country of Venezuela in every offseason since 2010.
All of his hard work paid off in 2013 when he finally was given a chance at the major league level.
It wasn’t much of an opportunity, playing in just eight games from May 24th-June 4th that year, but Sucre made an effort. In 26 at-bats, Sucre mustered five hits (none of them extra base knocks), drew two walks, drove in two men and had one multi-hit game.
In 2014, thrust into the team’s roster mid-year once again, things didn’t play out much better. From his July 9th call-up until his last appearance on September 22nd, Sucre pounded 13 hits on 61 attempts, drove in five runs and struck out 17 times.
The fact that he was given a chance to participate in three times as many games as the year before must’ve been a positive sign for the South American native. And his longest major league stint was yet to come.
By 2015, Sucre had earned a more prominent role in the Mariners organization. He was first called up for six games at the start of the season, but he probably should’ve stayed in the minors at this point. He only smacked one hit and struck out three times in that span.
During his latter call-up, Sucre was able to play more consistently, and towards the back-half of the year, he was able to put together some impressive hot streaks.
First, from September 8th-September 20th, Sucre went on a tear, batting .429 (5-16) with three doubles, and he drew a walk. Just a week later from September 30th-October 4th, Sucre had a four-game stretch in which he went 5-16 again, with a double, two RBIs and three runs scored.
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These kind of numbers may look familiar and that’s because they are. This past season, in the only six games he played all year, Sucre batted .647 with a home run, five RBIs, two doubles and even took two hit by pitches for the team.
If it hadn’t been for Zunino as the starter in 2015 and Chris Iannetta as the main catcher in 2016, who knows how many hot stretches Sucre would have had. Maybe he would have developed into a consistent backstop for the Mariners if he was given a full season to prove himself like Zunino was able to, and will do again this season.
Now that Sucre is turning 29 in April, he is out of his prime years for his position, so Dipoto’s trade does make sense if he can get someone good in return. The real issue lies with the fact the Sucre was never given a true time to shine, and that hurt his chances with the club.
And what happens going forward? If the Zunino doesn’t pan out again, and Ruiz retires, which he will in the very near future. Who will the Mariners turn to? A player waited in the minor league like Sucre was or will Dipoto go out and find the next catcher of the future?
If the Rays decide to give him the opportunity the Mariners never did, maybe we will find out what Sucre’s true potential is.