Seattle Mariners backstop and Wilson Defensive Player of the Year at catcher Mike Zunino is close to having a new home in Florida.
Sources told MLB.com and the Seattle Times that the Mariners are close to a deal that would send Zunino and outfielder Guillermo Heredia to the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Mallex Smith. The framework of the deal is expected to involved Minor League outfielder Jake Fraley going to Seattle and left-handed pitcher Michael Plassmeyer going to the Rays.
The deal won’t be finalized until medical files are reviewed. Neither club has confirmed the agreement.
Zunino, 27, hit .201 with 20 home runs and 44 RBIs in 113 games this season for the Mariners. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound backstop entered the league as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 MLB June Amateur Draft. Zunino hit a career-best .251 and 25 home runs with 64 RBIs in 124 games last season for the Mariners.
He is eligible for arbitration this offseason after making $2.97 million in 2018.
Smith, 25, was a fifth-round pick in the 2012 MLB June Amateur Draft. The outfielder hit .296 with two home runs, 40 RBIs and 40 stolen bases in 141 games this season for the Rays. Smith also led the American League with 10 triples and was caught stealing 10 times, also tops in the American League.
The Mariners and Rays have been in trade talks since last week. Wilson won the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year for Catchers on Wednesday after spending 4,829 innings behind the plate.