In the offseason following the Seattle Mariners’ solid (yet underwhelming) 2018 season, the Mariners traded starting catcher Mike Zunino to the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielders Mallex Smith and Jake Fraley. Smith was a relative disaster as a centerfielder and leadoff hitter in Seattle, but Fraley played very well in the minors and ended up being promoted to the major league team in late 2019.
Since then, Fraley, a former 2nd round pick of the Rays in the 2016 draft, has turned into an intriguing triple threat of on-base ability, speed, and power; this season, he was second on the Mariners with a .352 OBP and 10 stolen bases, and also hit nine home runs and seven doubles in a little over 200 at-bats.
As the Mariners approach an active offseason, some talented young players (such as Jake Fraley) could be traded for present contributors.
The Mariners will be presented with a logjam of talent in their outfield next season; Kyle Lewis, Jarred Kelenic, and Mitch Haniger are expected to be locks in the starting lineup, plus it’s expected the Mariners will pursue a free agent outfielder (such as Michael Conforto) to rotate with Lewis and Haniger in the DH spot. Take into consideration youngsters Julio Rodriguez, Taylor Trammell, and Fraley, and it’s clear the Mariners have the depth to make a move.
A savvy General Manager should never trade talent just to trade talent, but they should trade talent if it merits a significant return that can help a contending team get over the hump. Of the six outfielders listed above, I believe Fraley’s future with the team is the most doubtful, while still having enough talent to instigate an intriguing trade.
Due to Fraley’s youth and lack of completion of a full major league season yet, I believe rebuilding teams will be the primary suitors for Fraley’s services; with that in mind, let’s check out some of the best fits from around the league for a trade involving our favorite bearded blonde: