SEATTLE — Seattle’s first big move of the offseason was completing a deal Jerry Dipoto tried to make last summer.
The Mariners finally landed Adam Frazier, acquiring the All-Star second baseman in a trade with the San Diego Padres.
“We thought we were at the goal line to acquire Adam at trade deadline last year,” said Dipoto, Seattle’s president of baseball operations. “Obviously we missed out and we stayed in touch with the Padres as we headed into the offseason knowing that they had a pretty robust roster. And we just liked the player so we stuck with it.”
The move cost Seattle two minor leaguers, but it addresses one of the team’s biggest needs entering the offseason; adding a middle infielder to pair with shortstop J.P. Crawford. Frazier’s versatility means the Mariners can still be aggressive with other possible transactions should another middle infielder become available.
“That’s how I feel I can impact the team; play good defense and try to hit the baseball. Get on base any way I can,” Frazier said.
Seattle is expected to be active this offseason after it went 90-72 this year and fell just short of its first playoff appearance since 2001. Dipoto said the club is having ongoing conversations with multiple free agents and made contract offers to a couple, one of which he called “notable.”
“We felt like adding Adam made us a deeper team without stopping us from doing anything else we would have wanted to do,” Dipoto said. “That’s double the fun. We can continue to add to our team because Adam is so versatile.”
The Padres acquired left-handed reliever Ray Kerr and outfielder Corey Rosier.
Kerr was added to the Mariners’ 40-man roster just last week. He split time between Double-A Arkansas and Triple-A Tacoma last season.
Rosier was a 12th-round pick in the 2021 amateur draft out of UNC Greensboro. He spent last season at Single-A Modesto.
Frazier got off to a fast start last season with Pittsburgh, batting .324 with an .836 OPS and 28 doubles in 98 games. He was traded to San Diego in late July and faded over the final two months. In 57 games with the Padres, Frazer batted .267.
But Frazier puts the ball in play, having never struck out more than 75 times in a season. The Mariners had eight players appear in more than 90 games last season and all struck out at least 99 times.
“Adam, to me, is one of the better strike-zone managers in baseball,” Dipoto said. “He’s got great contact skills. In an era where strikeouts are prevalent, he doesn’t strike out. His strikeout rates would be good in any era, really.”
Defensively, Frazier has primarily played second base or left field throughout his career. Should the Mariners plug Frazier in at second, it would give them the ability to move Abraham Toro, acquired last year from Houston before the trade deadline, to his natural position of third base.
Dipoto said as of now the Mariners view Frazier as their starting second baseman, while also fitting with Seattle’s goal of having positional flexibility with significant chunks of its roster.
“The versatility that these guys have allows us to do so much in creative lineup building and doesn’t stop us from continuing to go out and search for that kind of bat impact that we’re trying to find in this market,” Dipoto said.
Frazier, who turns 30 next month, is under contract for $7.5 million this season. He is eligible for free agency after 2022. He made $4.3 million last season.
“Jerry pointed out that I’ll be one of the older guys in the in the clubhouse, which is kind of surprising,” Frazier said. “I still feel young, and for that to be the case now is pretty crazy to wrap my head around.”