As mentioned in the story about the Braves-Mariners trade, it looked like Seattle was going to flip outfielder Mallex Smith, who they just acquired from Atlanta. And flipped him they have, along with two minor leaguers, to Tampa Bay for starter Drew Smyly.
Smyly, the 27-year-old lefty, posted a 4.88 ERA in 30 starts for the Rays last season. He struck out 167 batters while walking 49 in 175.1 innings. While it was his worst season as far as ERA+ goes, it was the most he has worked in any of his five years in the bigs. He’s a back-end starter and the M’s could use a back-end starter.
Going to Tampa Bay will be Smith, the speedy center fielder we talked about in the Braves-M’s trade post, and minor leaguers Carlos Vargas, a shortstop, and lefty Ryan Yarbrough. Vargas is only 17 and played in 62 games in the developmental Dominican Summer League. Yarbrough was a fourth rounder in 2014 but is 25 and hasn’t advanced past Double-A yet. He flashed gaudy strikeout rates early on, but that has flattened out.
UPDATE: The Mariners have now flipped Mallex Smith to Tampa Bay, along with two minor leaguers, for starter Drew Smyly.
2:49 PM: The Braves and Mariners have made a trade involving four young players: Seattle is sending lefties Luiz Gohara and Thomas Burrows to Atlanta in exchange for outfielder Mallex Smith and righty reliever Shae Simmons.
Gohara, a minor leaguer, spent last season at two separate single-A levels. The 20-year-old Brazilian made 13 starts and posted a 1.81 ERA while striking out 81 batters in 69.2 innings. He is, according to Baseball America, the M’s third best prospect. Burrows is a 22-year-old who was drafted out of college last season and pitched 20 games in relief in low-A ball.
In Smith, the Mariners get a center fielder who will turn 24 in May. He played 72 games for Atlanta in his rookie season, posting a line of .238/.317/.365 while stealing 16 bases. Speed is definitely Smith’s calling card: he stole 88 bases in 2014 in the minors. Smith’s path to regular playing time in Atlanta became questionable, however, once the Braves signed Ender Inciarte to a contract extension last month.
Simmons, a reliever, has pitched 33 games in relief in two big league seasons. He’s 26. He missed the entire 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery.
In Gohara, the Braves get a young starter with upside. In Smith the M’s get a speedy outfielder. The other two dudes are throw-ins, it would seem.
The Rays are reportedly seeking a big return for every player that has received inquires this offseason, according to Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin. That includes right-handed ace Chris Archer, who could command a return package to rival the one the White Sox received for Chris Sale last week.
As Topkin points out, Archer is older and less dominant than Sale, though he comes with a more team-friendly contract. Coming off of a career-best performance in 2015, the 28-year-old delivered a 4.02 ERA and 3.1 fWAR in 2016, seeing a significant decrease in his strikeout total and giving up a career-worst 30 home runs through 201 1/3 innings. He still profiles among the elite starters of the American League, however, and is controllable for five years at $38.5 million (via Topkin). Sale, by comparison, remains under club control for three years at $39.5 million.
Any deal involving Archer would likely require a top prospect or two, and Topkin suggests that the asking price may be too high for interested parties to meet. The same could be said for fellow right-hander Jake Odorizzi, whom the Rays appear equally reluctant to trade without a significant return. If the club deals anyone this winter, it will probably be right-handers Alex Cobb and Erasmo Ramirez or left-hander Drew Smyly, all of whom could be acquired for a much more reasonable price.