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Mariners acquire Adam Frazier from San Diego for two prospects

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Good morning, San Diego!

San Diego Padres v St Louis Cardinals
Brown and yellow << teal and silver
Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images

You really didn’t think Jerry Dipoto was going to make you wait that much longer for his first strike of the offseason, did you?

With the noises of an unfortunate Apple Cup still ringing in the ears of tens of thousands across Washington, the Seattle Mariners decided now was the time to shore up their infield situation for 2022 and add a player coming off a career season with significant positional flexibility.

Adam Frazier, who turns 30 in a few weeks, is a lefty-hitting second baseman who can play a little bit of third base, left field, and right field too. He was a sixth round pick back in 2013 and made his debut back in 2016 for the Pirates. His bat has hovered right around league average, with excellent ball-to-bat skills (he struck out just 10.8% of the time in 2021), and he made his first All-Star team last season for a moribund Pittsburgh team.

His reward for that was getting traded to the San Diego Padres in an ill-fated playoff push. Reports from Ryan Divish and others indicate that Jerry tried hard to acquire Frazier at the deadline, but the Buccos ultimately took a triumvirate of prospects from San Diego headlined by Tucupita Marcano. By contrast, the two players the Mariners dealt to the Padres for Frazier rank far lower — Corey Rosier came in 18th in Joe Doyle’s end-of-season prospect rankings and Ray Kerr was ineligible for that list since he’s already 27.

Of course, that doesn’t mean those players are useless. Kerr was just added to the 40-man roster a few weeks ago, indicating that other teams might have used a Rule V pick on him, and the lefty exploded on the scene in 2021 with 60 strikeouts in 39.2 innings across AA and AAA. Rosier, by contrast, was the M’s’ 12th-round pick this past July. Both are under-the-radar types who could become big league contributors, but a well-run organization should be able to replenish these types of players.

Back to Frazier: Even with just one year of club control remaining before he hits free agency, it’s undeniable that this upgrades the MLB roster. Frazier was worth 3.5 fWAR last season, and even if he regresses toward his projections (Steamer pegs him for just 1.2 fWAR this year and a 99 wRC+), he remains a useful player.

In the end, regardless of whether you think Frazier is a 1-win utility type or a 3-win everyday starter, this move will be judged in totality with other, hopefully-bigger splashes.

This move shouldn’t mean that the Mariners are out on Marcus Semien, Kris Bryant, et al. It certainly shouldn’t preclude them from signing a pitcher like Marcus Stroman — in his final season of arbitration, Frazier will likely make roughly $7.2m, which doesn’t break the bank for a major league team. Frazier as a tertiary piece this offseason is a win for the org; Frazier as the signature move, or even simply as the signature move in the infield, would be wildly disappointing, especially after months (if not years) of hype around all the financial flexibility we’ve acquired.

But there will be time to judge those moves later on. For now, looking at this trade, Jerry Dipoto turned two minor assets into MiLB contributors with real upside, and then dealt them for an MLB-ready asset. The last two deals between Dipoto and A.J. Preller have been fairly lopsided:

  • The Austin Nola extravaganza that brought Ty France, Taylor Trammell, Luis Torrens, and Andres Muñoz to Seattle
  • The one-for-one deal that swapped Taylor Williams for now-top-100 prospect Matt Brash

If this swap can be even half as successful as those deals, the Mariners will be sitting pretty.