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Report: Mariners agree to trade Mike Zunino, Guillermo Heredia to Rays for Mallex Smith

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Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports that the Mariners are working to complete a trade that would send catcher Mike Zunino and outfielder Guillermo Heredia to the Rays in exchange for outfielder Mallex Smith and “perhaps a minor league prospect.” Some work still needs to be done to bring the deal to the finish line, but Divish says the two sides have been discussing the deal since last week. [Update: The trade is agreed upon, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.]

Smith, 25, hit .296/.367/.406 with a league-high 10 triples along with 40 RBI, 65 runs scored, and 40 stolen bases in 544 plate appearances with the Rays this past season. Smith was briefly with the Mariners in January 2017. The Braves traded him along with Shae Simmons to the Mariners for Luiz Gohara and minor leaguer Thomas Burrows. The Mariners then immediately sent him to the Rays along with Ryan Yarbrough and minor leaguer Carlos Vargas in exchange for Drew Smyly.

Zunino, 27, was just named one of the Defensive Players of the Year. He had a really good offensive year in 2017 but regressed this past season, finishing with a .201/.259/.410 triple-slash line along with 20 homers and 44 RBI in 405 PA.

Heredia, 27, spent most of his time in center field for the Mariners this year once Dee Gordon moved back to second base following Robinson Canó’s suspension. He hit .236/.318/.342 in 337 PA.

Smith is not yet eligible for arbitration, so he will be cheap in 2019 and under team control through 2022. Zunino is entering his second of three years of arbitration eligibility after earning $2.975 this past season. Heredia has roughly a similar amount of service time as Smith — he’ll be eligible for arbitration after the 2019 season and will be under team control through the 2022 season.

Adrián Beltré is a slam dunk Hall of Famer

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Rangers third baseman Adrián Beltré officially announced his retirement on Tuesday, ending months of speculation about his future. The 39-year-old put together one of the greatest careers we have ever seen, spending time with the Dodgers, Mariners, Red Sox, and Rangers across 21 seasons.

Beltré will be eligible for the Hall of Fame five years from now. Given how much more analytically-literate the electorate has become in recent years, Beltré will very likely get the requisite 75 percent of the vote to earn enshrinement in Cooperstown. In a just world, he would get 100 percent of the vote, but no player has ever gone into the Hall of Fame unanimously.

Beltré retires having hit .286/.339/.480 with 477 home runs, 1,707 RBI, 1,524 runs scored, and 121 stolen bases in 12,130 plate appearances. Beltré hit for the cycle three times: in 2008 with the Mariners, and in 2012 and 2015 with the Rangers. He won four Silver Sluggers and made the All-Star team four times, both of which seem criminally low. He also won five Gold Gloves and two Platinum Gloves. For the bulk of his career, he was arguably the best defensive third baseman if not just in his league then in all of baseball. Injuries slowed Beltré in his 30’s, particularly in the last two seasons, but despite that, he showed when he was healthy that he could still hang with the young guns in his old age. No one would have been surprised if he hung around for one more season. Despite health issues, Beltré still hit around the league average with above-average defense.

Among Hall of Famers who played at least 50 percent of their career games at third base, Beltré’s career 95.7 WAR ranks behind only Mike Schmidt (106.8) and Eddie Mathews (96.6), per Baseball Reference. He’s ahead of Wade Boggs (91.4), George Brett (88.7), and Chipper Jones (85.2). Those six are the only third basemen in the 80’s when it comes to WAR.

As Jon Morosi points out, Beltré is the only third baseman in baseball history with 3,000-plus hits and 400-plus home runs. Individually, the 3,000-hit club boasts only 32 members while the 400-homer club has 55 members. Beltré’s 3,166 hits and 477 homes rank 16th and 30th, respectively.

Beltré’s numbers are absurdly good, but beyond that, he was a character. He took the game quite seriously, but he was still able to have fun. He became one of the most .gif-able players in the game. Beltré didn’t like his head being touched, so when he approached or went through the dugout collecting high-fives after hitting home runs, his teammates would oftentimes playfully pat him or rub his head. Beltré would pretend to go after them in revenge.

Beltré once borrowed groundskeeping equipment in order to avoid Gatorade baths.

Beltré wasn’t afraid to drop to one knee to hit a homer, either.

Beltré played games with his opponents after successfully swiping a base.

Beltré got into standoffs with opposing players, further proving he’s anything but an easy out.

Beltré made relevant cultural references.

Beltré once trolled the umpire, who asked him to get back into the on-deck circle, by moving the on-deck circle.

Happy trails to not only one of the best players of his generation, but to one of the most entertaining as well. Baseball will be poorer without Adrián Beltré. His Hall of Fame induction ceremony should be tremendous, though.