Seattle Mariners trade rumors indicate Brandon Maurer has been dealt to the San Diego Padres for outfielder Seth Smith. The need to add another outfielder seems to have convinced Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik to part with a valuable piece of the bullpen. According to a report from MLB.com on Tuesday (Dec. 30), discussions had been taking place between the two teams since the Winter Meetings. It is expected that Smith will now serve in a platoon role out in right field for the team.
Earlier in December, the Mariners acquired Justin Ruggiano from the Chicago Cubs as another move to add outfield depth. Ruggiano looks good on paper against left-handed starting pitching, with Smith expected to step in against right handed pitchers. During his career in the league, Smith has posted a .277 batting average and .358 on-base percentage against righties. That could be very valuable to manager Lloyd McClendon as he tinkers with the lineup for the 2015 MLB season.
Maurer had been converted to a relief pitcher midway through the 2014 season and he found a lot of success in that role. In 37 1/3 innings of relief he had a 2.17 ERA, a 0.964 WHIP and was striking out batters at a rate of 9.2 per nine innings. It seemed that Maurer had found his niche with the team and was doing so with a 97-98 mph fastball. That could be exactly what made him attractive to the Padres in this transaction.
It appears that the Mariners are dealing from an area of strength (the bullpen) in order to further fix their outfield situation. This deal likely also points to James Jones beginning the season in Triple-A Tacoma as the odd man out. It might also predict that Willie Bloomquist won’t make the final 25-man roster cuts due to Dustin Ackley and Austin Jackson holding down the other two outfield slots. The team might not be done yet, but this is a move that willy likely improve the offense right away.