After narrowly missing postseason berth in the 2021 season, the Mariners are looking to make a hard push in 2022. Before the lockout, they added Robbie Ray and Adam Frazier to beef up their roster and have now acquired Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez, in exchange for outfielder Jake Fraley, pitcher Justin Dunn, and pitching prospect Brandon Williamson.
The Mariners will also bear the financial burden in the deal and finance the remainder of Suárez’s seven-year, $66 million deal ending after the 2024 season. John Stanton, Chairman and CEO of the Mariners, and his president of baseball operations, Jerry Dipoto seek to finally put an end to their team’s two-decade-long playoff drought. They seem to finally be investing as much as is necessary to make it to October, which should be even easier now given the new expanded playoff format.
TRADE: The Mariners acquire Reds OF Jesse Winker and IF Eugenio Suárez in exchange for Justin Dunn, Brandon Williamson and Jake Fraley, via multiple reports. pic.twitter.com/1y36cDWHpp
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) March 14, 2022
When Winker first showed up in the big leagues in 2017 after being drafted 49th overall five years prior, he showed some talent, but in 2021, he reached his full potential and produced career numbers. His 19 home runs and .301 BA in the first half earned him his first all-star appearance. He then finished the season with a .949 OPS.
Despite his suboptimal OBP over the last couple of years, Suárez’s power should not be taken lightly. Since 2017, the infielder has averaged 39 home runs per 162 games. He also received MVP votes following his stellar 2018 and 2019 performances.
Both players add serious power capabilities to a team that lost its second-most homerun hitter in Kyle Seager to retirement. Furthermore, Winker in particular will boost Seattle’s offensive capabilities with his .394 OBP in 2021, which was far higher than that of any of the regulars in the Mariners’ 2021 lineup. If Winker can avoid injuries in 2022, he will turn out to be one of the best acquisitions of the offseason by any team.
All Suárez needs to do is hit home runs, which he should have no problem doing. He will not contribute much to the Mariners in terms of getting on base, but his RBI total should only increase in 2022 from his total of 79 in 2021 given the abilities of his new teammates to reach base.
Drafted in the second round by the Rays in 2016, Fraley has gone back and forth between the majors and minors over the past few years. The outfielder has shown promise in his offensive output while in the minors but has not been able to translate that into production on the major league level. Over five years in the minors, he has posted a .388 OBP and a .484 SLG, but in over 300 plate appearances in the majors, the Maryland native has a sub-.200 batting average and only a .656 OPS. Fraley will not reach free agency until 2027, so if he can figure it out at the plate, he can become an affordable asset to the Reds for several years to come.
As for Dunn, he was a first-rounder drafted by the Mets in 2016. The righty put up very decent numbers in the minors through five seasons, posting a 3.76 ERA and cracking MLB.com’s top-100 prospect rankings prior to being called up in 2019. Over three seasons of appearing in the majors, Dunn has started 25 games and pitched just over 100 innings with a 3.94 ERA. With his low-90s fastball, he mostly pitches to contact which has worked out fairly well for him. Dunn improved in many categories between the 2020 and 2021 seasons; his HR%, SO%, and BB% all improved. Additionally, he was able to decrease his opponents’ average exit velocity and their hard-hit rate. Dunn’s outlook is positive and he should continue moving in the right direction over the next few seasons.
In Williamson, the Reds received a promising left-handed pitching prospect. Ranked #83 by Baseball America just a short while ago, he has boasted a 14.1 K/9 ratio so far in the minors. That paired with a solid 3 BB/9 ratio have helped him earn a 3.25 ERA and a 1.144 WHIP throughout a pair of professional seasons. Williamson should add much-needed depth to the Reds farm system which Keith Law of the Athletic recently ranked #19 out of the 30 organizations.
These acquisitions should be of some help to the Reds moving forward but the biggest benefactors of this trade are clearly the Mariners. They used their financial capability and flexibility to acquire some serious hitting talent while avoiding giving up a hefty package of young talent. If all are healthy, the Mariners could get well over 100 home runs from just Mitch Haniger, Winker, and Suárez to put them well on their way to making the postseason in 2022.
Photo by Daniel Bartel/Icon Sportswire