Report: Mariners to fire professional scouting director over Josh Lueke controversy

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Jack Zduriencik hired Carmen Fusco as the Mariners’ professional scouting director soon after he took over as general manager two offseasons ago, but Seattle’s local NBC television affiliate KING5 reports that Fusco will be let go in the wake of the controversy surrounding the team’s acquisition of prospect Josh Lueke.
Lueke missed most of last season after being charged with rape and sodomy, eventually pleading guilty to lesser charges and serving 40 days in jail, but some Mariners decision-makers–and specifically team president Chuck Armstrong–said they didn’t know of his history when they got him from the Rangers as part of the haul for Cliff Lee.
And then later there were contradictory reports about who did or didn’t know about Lueke’s history, and when they did or didn’t know. It was a big mess, and now apparently Fusco has been made the fall guy. Or one of the fall guys, at least.
“Mariners fire scouting director” is an attention-grabbing headline, but as Jason Churchill of Prospect Insider and ESPN.com notes Fusco was the professional scouting director, which is very much different than the amateur scouting director. Tom McNamara remains in the role people typically associate with the scouting director title, which is to say he’s in charge of the draft and minors while Fusco ran the big-league scouting operation.
Either way, Fusco is reportedly out of a job after 35 years in baseball and Zduriencik is burning through scapegoats pretty quickly.

Report: Diamondbacks acquire Steven Souza from Rays; Yankees land Brandon Drury

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Update (6:35 PM ET): This is a three-team deal also involving the Diamondbacks, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Diamondbacks will receive outfielder Steven Souza from the Rays and second baseman Brandon Drury will head to the Yankees. Lefty reliever Anthony Banda will go to the Rays, Piecoro adds. The Diamondbacks will also receive prospect Taylor Widener from the Yankees, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert adds that the Rays will get two players to be named later from the D-Backs.

Souza, 28, is earning $3.55 million in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility, so the Rays are presumably saving money in moving him. Last season, Souza hit a productive .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBI, 78 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 617 plate appearances. Souza’s arrival almost certainly pushes Yasmany Tomas out of a starting gig.

Drury, 25, has played a handful of positions in his brief major league career. Last year, he played second base in Arizona, batting .267/.317/.447 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI in 480 PA.

Banda, 24, made his major league debut last season, posting an ugly 5.96 ERA with a 25/10 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings. The peripherals suggest he pitched better than his ERA indicated.

Widener, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the 12th round of the 2016 draft. This past season with High-A Tampa, he pitched 119 1/3 innings and posted a 3.39 ERA with a 129/50 K/BB ratio. MLB Pipeline rated Widener as the 14th-best prospect in the Yankees’ system.

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Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reports that the Rays will acquire second base prospect Nick Solak from the Yankees. The Yankees’ return is presently not known.

Solak, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2016 draft. He spent last season between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, hitting a combined .297/.384/.452 with 12 home runs, 53 RBI, 72 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases.

MLB Pipeline ranked Solak as the eighth-best prospect in the Yankees’ system and the fifth-best second base prospect in baseball, praising him for his ability to hit line drives as well as his speed.