We’ve heard rumors that Mariners outfielder Seth Smith could be on his way out of Seattle in return for some much-needed starting pitcher help. But it hasn’t happened yet. Is Smith still on the block?
Seth Smith had a decent year for the Mariners at the plate last season. He clocked 16 home runs, drew 48 walks (against 89 strike outs) and got on base at a .342 clip. In short, he did his job as a corner outfielder platoon man for manager Scott Servais. At the beginning of the offseason, it appeared Smith was trade bait.
And it made sense. Seth Smith is an aging outfielder who can’t cover ground like he used to. The 34 year-old Jackson, Mississippi native has made his living in the Major Leagues by being a relatively reliable off-the-bench bat. When his name came up in trade negotiations for Boston starter Drew Pomeranz, I and many other Mariners fans were excited.
Seth Smith was a calming presence for the Mariners last season. He saw an average of 4.24 pitches per plate appearance, the eighth most in MLB among qualifying players. He embodies the new approach that General Manager Jerry Dipoto and company have taken to control the strike zone better throughout the organization.
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But, the Mariners need starting pitching. Their offense was excellent last year, and the productive middle third of their batting order, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Kyle Seager, despite Cruz and Cano’s advancing age, figures to be productive again next season. Having a decent platoon bat off the bench is valuable, but if the Mariners plan to break into the postseason next year, they have to find players to get outs and stymie the fearsome lineups of Texas and Houston.
Seth Smith appears expendable due to the addition of Mitch Haniger in the Jean Segura trade. But will we see a deal involving him before the end of the offseason? Dipoto is not shy about unloading players, but perhaps his asking price for Smith is too high. Once again, Dipoto is short on high-end prospects to toss in and sweeten deals with other clubs. It’s no secret that the Mariners are listening to offers for Smith, the question is, when (if ever) will Dipoto hear a deal he likes for the Team Dad.