A trade of one or more of the Padres’ outfielders was expected as they had acquired somewhat of a surplus of outfielders over their recent flurry of trades. The Mariners weren’t one of the front runners known to be specifically looking for a new outfielder but the trade works well for the club.
The 32-year-old Smith is expected to join Justin Ruggiano, also 32, in a right field platoon. Smith hit .266 with 12 homers and 48 RBIs last season. However when it came to hitting agaainst right-handed pitchers, Smith hit .270 with all 12 of his home runs and an .815 on-base plus slugging percentage.
Ruggiano hit .281/.337/.429 with an on-base plus slugging percentage of .766 in 81 games for the Chicago Cubs last season. For Ruggiano when it came to hitting against left-handed pitching he hit .301/.333/.512 with an on-base plus slugging percentage on .846.
Putting the two together makes for one good rightfield hitting machine for the Mariners who have already upgraded their lineup by signing Nelson Cruz, who led the league with 40 home runs last season, off the free agent market.
As for what the Padres got in return for Smith, the got a right-handed former starter-turned-reliever named Brandon Maurer. Maurer is just 24 years old and will only be going into this third big league season.
He exceeded his rookie limits during a rocky 2103 season where went 5-8 in 14 starts and 22 total appearances for the club. His ERA was 6.30 by the end of the season.
Maurer made just seven starts in 2014 before being relegated to the bullpen where he made 31 relief appearances. Moving Maurer to the bullpen helped him bounce back and by the end of 2014 he had lowered his ERA to 4.65, which while still a bit higher that what is desirable most of the runs came during his seven starts.
Maurer’s ERA out of the bullpen was just 2.17. He struck out 38 batters in 37.1 innings out of the bullpen. Clearly he’d found his niche and assuming he maintains similar numbers he’d be a big asset to the Padres’ bullpen.
With both players under team control for sometime this is a fair trade for both clubs. With Maurer being only 24 years old he will not even be eligible for arbitration until 2017. Smith is under contract through 2016 with an option for 2017. So both teams are getting time in this trade.
As Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik put it,
“One of the things we try and stay away from is giving up talent for one-year returns.”
In this situation both teams got talent and time.