The deal hasn't officially been announced by Seattle yet, but ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports on Twitter that the Mariners and Padres have agreed on a deal in which the M's will acquire left-handed hitting outfielder Seth Smith from the San Diego for right-handed reliever Brandon Maurer.
Smith owns a lifetime .277/.358/.481 split against right-handed pitchers, and he has posted an OPS of .805 or better against them in all but one of his big league seasons. The 32-year-old saw 455 of his 521 plate appearances against righties in 2014 and figures to line up in a pretty strict platoon with fellow new M's outfielder Justin Ruggiano for Seattle in 2015. Ruggiano owns a lifetime split of .266/.329/.508 versus lefties, so this duo look like natural platoon partners heading into the season.
Smith previously played two seasons in the AL West for Oakland, hitting .246/.331/.406 and owning an 8.7% XBH rate in 242 games with the A's in 2012 and 2013. A lifetime .265/.347/.453 hitter overall, Smith has averaged 14 home runs a season since becoming a regular in 2009. While his career high in home runs in a season is 17 back in 2010 with the Rockies and his career home run percentage is just 2.4% outside of Colorado, Smith banged out 48 extra base hits for the Padres last year and has slugged .473 in the offensive-suppressing PetCo Park in 102 games in his career.
Controlled through the 2017 season via an extension that he signed with San Diego mid-year in 2014, Smith adds another offensive weapon to the M's lineup that has also added reigning MLB home run champ Nelson Cruz. While his performance in San Diego was a bright spot for the offensive-starved franchise, Smith became expendable due to the flurry of moves that the Padres' new GM, A.J. Preller, has made since taking over. The rookie GM has added outfielders Matt Kemp, Wil Myers and Justin Upton in the past month via trades and has turned the roster upside down for a San Diego team that hasn't made the playoffs since 2006 and has only cracked .500 once since 2007.
Maurer, who made the surprising jump to the majors from Double-A for Seattle out of spring training in 2013, struggled out of the gate this past season, but experienced a rebirth of sorts after shifting to the bullpen, not surrendering a run in his first 10 outings in relief and striking out 38 while issuing only three unintentional walks in his 37 1/3 innings. The 6-foot-5 right-hander averaged 96.4 mph on his fastball (t-13th in baseball for relievers with 30+ innings in 2014) out of the pen, and actually cured his biggest weakness -- performance against left-handed pitching -- by developing his circle change into a true out pitch.
While a young, controllable arm like Maurer's certainly is a valuable asset, Seattle likely has five or six other righties ahead of Maurer on the depth chart heading into next year and was clearly still looking to upgrade their outfield mix. While the M's could still potentially add a piece or two prior to the club reporting to spring training in 53 days, Smith's addition appears to address all of the major needs of a team that missed the playoffs by just one game in 2014.
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