It’s been a busy offseason for the Mariners, who began restructuring their infield and outfield platoons last weekend after they acquired Danny Valencia from the Athletics. On Friday night, they confirmed a five-player deal with the Rays that sent infielder/outfielders Richie Shaffer and Taylor Motter to Seattle and first baseman Dalton Kelly and right-handers Dylan Thompson and Andrew Kittredge to Tampa Bay.
Neither Shaffer nor Motter have extensive major league experience, but Mariners’ GM Jerry Dipoto appeared grateful for the depth and flexibility the pair will bring to the 2017 roster. Over two seasons with the Rays, Shaffer primarily operated as a backup first and third baseman during the second half, batting a cumulative .213/.310/.410 in 142 PA that looked nothing like the 30-homer, .243/.338/.445 output he generated in two seasons and 778 PA with Triple-A Durham. Motter was another recent call-up for the Rays in 2016, and batted a dismal .188/.290/.300 in May and June before getting demoted to Triple-A for the remainder of the season. Despite his struggles on the major league stage, his experience at nearly every position (except for center field) will lend the Mariners more versatility heading into the 2017 season.
The Rays, meanwhile, will receive three minor league prospects from the Mariners in return. Right-hander Dylan Thompson heads the group as the Mariners’ fourth-round pick in the 2015 draft and No. 22 overall among the club’s 2016 prospect pool. Injuries kept him out of the minor league circuit in 2016, though he made a brief late season comeback in the Arizona Fall League.
Tampa Bay will also see 26-year-old righty Andrew Kittredge, who split his season between Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma in 2016, pitching to a 3.50 ERA and 10.5 K/9 rate in 72.0 innings with the two clubs. Rounding out the group is Dalton Kelly, a first baseman/right fielder who destroyed Midwest League pitching in 2016 with a .293/.384/.416 batting line in 564 PA for Single-A Clinton. Unlike Shaffer and Motter, none of the Rays’ newly-acquired prospects appear to be major league ready just yet, though they should give the club some extra padding in the farm system.