The Seattle Mariners have acquired OF Jesse Winker and 3B Eugenio Suarez from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for OF Jake Fraley, RHP Justin Dunn, LHP Brandon Williamson, and a player to be named later.
The Mariners are not exactly a big-market team, but they are using their financial flexibility to make their team significantly better. Winker, who has two more years left before hitting free agency, is baseball’s most underrated hitter, or at least top-five in that category. Watching him play defense may not be enjoyable, but he is an elite hitter who could be a great DH. Winker had a .403 wOBA and a .394 OBP in 2021, both of which are elite numbers.
They got him at a discounted price by taking on the contract of Suarez, who has three years left and is owed $35 million. Suarez has amazing power, with his 49 home runs in 2019 being the most ever for a Venezuelan-born player. However, he does not hit for average at all or get on base. That sounds eerily familiar of the recently retired Kyle Seager, who had a 2021 like that. Suarez will replace him. He also played 34 games at shortstop last year. However, that was an adventure, with -10 outs above average at that position alone. He is a fine defender at third.
Winker, 28, hit 24 home runs with a .305 average, a .394 OBP, and a .949 OPS in 485 Plate Appearances for the Reds in 2021. In his MLB career, all in Cincinnati, Winker has hit 66 home runs with a .288 average, a .385 OBP, and an OPS of .888 in 1523 Plate Appearances.
Suarez, 30, hit 30 home runs with a .198 average, .286, and a .713 OPS in 574 Plate Appearances for the Reds last year. In his MLB career for the Reds and Detroit Tigers, Suarez has hit 193 home runs with a .252 average, .334 OBP, and a .800 OPS in 4007 Plate Appearances.
With how good Winker is, this return feels light, especially given that the designated hitter in the National League ups his value. Fraley will play in Winker’s spot, but he is not close in value. A great minor league player, Fraley walks often and was about league average in his first big taste of MLB experience in 2021. His 17.4 BB% is intriguing. Dunn, a 2016 first-round pick, was solid in 11 starts last year. However, he has a control issue and did not go deep into games. Neither Dunn nor Fraley is particularly young. The left-handed Williamson has the potential to be the best player coming back. The 2019 second-round pick had an impressive minor league season. MLB Pipeline ranked him as Seattle’s seventh-best prospect.
Fraley, 26, hit nine home runs with 10 stolen bases, a .352 OBP, and a .721 OPS in 265 Plate Appearances in 2021. He also has a .918 OPS in 51 career AAA games.
Dunn, 26, had a 3.75 ERA with 49 strikeouts, a 1.311 WHIP, and a 4.74 FIP in 50.1 innings in 2021. In his MLB career, all with Seattle, Dunn has a 3.94 ERA with 92 strikeouts, a 1.354 WHIP, and a 5.61 FIP in 102.2 innings pitched.
Williamson, 23, had a 3.39 ERA between High-A Everett and AA Arkansas in 2021. He also had 153 strikeouts with 33 walks, and a 1.18 WHIP in 98.1 innings pitched.