As expected, the Mariners appear ready to enter 2015 with a platoon in right field. According to multiple reports, Seattle is close to making a trade with the San Diego Padres for outfielder Seth Smith. A left-handed hitter, Smith would complement right-handed hitting Justin Ruggiano, whom Seattle recently acquired in a trade with the Chicago Cubs. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Padres, who have an influx of outfielders thanks to the offseason additions of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers, want reliever Brandon Maurer in return for Smith.
Smith has been a rumored Mariners target for weeks. Speculation, however, picked up over the last few days, with The Seattle Times reporting Monday that Seattle has made offers for the 32-year-old. Tuesday, 710 ESPN’s Shannon Drayer reported that a deal was “very close.”
Smith had one of the best seasons of his big-league career in 2014 with the Padres, posting a .266/.367/.440 slash with 12 home runs, 48 RBIs and a 3.9 WAR (wins-above-replacement) in 136 games.
Perhaps more enticingly for Seattle, he posted an .815 OPS against right-handed pitching. Born in Jackson, MS., Smith was a two-sport athlete at the University of Mississippi, where he backed up New York Giants QB Eli Manning on the football team for three years, though he never played. Selected by the Rockies in the second round of the 2004 June draft, Smith has spent his eight MLB seasons among Colorado, Oakland and San Diego.
According to Baseball Reference, he made $4.5 million with the Padres last season, and is due $6 million in 2015, $6.75 million in 2016 and has a $7 million team option with a $250,000 buyout for 2017.
Maurer, 24, was a surprising contributor out of the Mariners bullpen in 2014 after failing as a starter and demoted to Triple-A Tacoma. When he returned to the big leagues in late June, he featured an upper-90s fastball and a no-nonsense attitude. In 31 games out of the bullpen, he went 0-0 with a 2.17 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings.