Seattle Mariners: Sodo Mojo’s 2019 Off-Season Plan
TRADE: C LUKE MAILE
Our attention now turns to one of the more overlooked spots on Seattle’s roster: their backup catcher. For years now, the M’s have heavily relied on Mike Zunino figuring things out while never providing a true backup plan. The best catcher they’ve had in the Dipoto years was Chris Iannetta, though he was brought on to start. Outside of Iannetta, Seattle has acquired Carlos Ruiz, Steve Clevenger, David Freitas, Mike Marjama, Chris Herrmann, and Tuffy Gosewisch over the last three years, all offering little insurance to Zunino’s extremely low floor.
We have the Mariners rectifying that in our plan, snagging Blue Jays backup catcher Luke Maile for rising starting pitching prospect Darren McCaughan. Maile is just a career .219/.281/.337 hitter, but for some reason, he becomes one of the more consistent hitters on Toronto’s roster in 2018. Out of nowhere, Maile finished his season with a .248/.333/.366 slash over 66 games, making the most out of his opportunities in supplementing Russell Martin. The best tool Maile has to offer at the plate is his ability to get on base, something Zunino has failed to do for most of his career.
Maile’s been a strong defender his entire career, but his bat held him back from breaking his reputation as no more than a tertiary option at catcher. Now that he’s seemingly found success at the plate, Maile’s value has greatly increased and the Jays don’t really need him with Martin and top prospect Danny Jansen around.
Losing McCaughan is a tough blow to a farm system that features very few talented starters. But it’s a price we’re willing to pay to finally properly fill a spot that feels more necessary than it should be. Maile has shown the propensity to step into a starting role if Zunino were to go down or struggle at the plate once again, allowing Seattle to not feel as suffocated at the position as they’ve been in the past.
Maile is in the final pre-arbitration year of his contract, coming in at the very low cost of $558,400. For reference, Herrmann was projected to make about $1.5 million in arbitration before the M’s let him walk, meaning they save roughly $1 million of estimated dollars by going this route.
(Written by Ty Gonzalez)