Mike Zunino, Guillermo Heredia Traded to Rays from Mariners for Mallex Smith

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist

Seattle Mariners catcher Mike Zunino walks towards the dugout against the Texas Rangers after the fifth inning a of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 21, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Mike Stone)
Mike Stone/Associated Press

It's early in the offseason, but the Seattle Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays have shaken up their rosters.

The Mariners announced Thursday they have dealt catcher Mike Zunino, outfielder Guillermo Heredia and minor league pitcher Michael Plassmeyer to the Rays for outfielder Mallex Smith and minor league outfielder Jake Fraley.

Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times first reported the deal Wednesday, noting the teams had been in discussions since last week.

Zunino is the headliner of this trade in large part because of his glove. Divish noted he was named Wilson Defensive Player of the Year for catchers Wednesday, and he was responsible for a career-best 12 defensive runs saved during the 2018 campaign, per FanGraphs.

It was his fifth straight season saving at least four runs, and he has 40 in all during his career.

However, he isn't as effective with the bat and slashed .201/.259/.410 with 44 RBI in 2018. He did bring power to the dish yet again with 20 home runs after he drilled 25 long balls during the 2017 campaign and 22 in 2014. Still, he's hit under .200 more times (twice) than he's hit over .214 (once).

As for Heredia, he was a rotational outfielder for the Mariners who slashed .236/.318/.342 with five home runs and 19 RBI. His inclusion in the trade is surely just for depth purposes from Tampa Bay's perspective, as he was not particularly effective with his glove either, considering he was responsible for minus-10 defensive runs saved in the outfield in 2018, per FanGraphs.

Seattle is set to add potential with 25-year-old Smith in exchange for those pieces after he slashed .296/.367/.406 last season. It was his speed that stood out the most with 40 stolen bases, and he would add a threat on the basepaths for the Mariners after they were a middling 13th in the league in stolen bases.

The Mariners haven't reached the playoffs since the 2001 season and are already wheeling and dealing with an eye on 2019.