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.