After a quiet period over the weekend that frustrated many Mariners fans, Jerry Dipoto proved he was in fact ready to transact, acquiring All-Star OF Jesse Winker and INF Eugenio Suárez from the Cincinnati Reds.
The Reds, baseball’s closest thing to a Dollar General store, have already shipped out Sonny Gray and continue to sell off pieces of their major-league roster in preparation for a deep rebuild. That rebuild will be aided and abetted by LHP Brandon Williamson, the headline piece of this trade for the Reds, who will also receive two major-league players in RHP Justin Dunn and OF Jake Fraley. The Reds will also reportedly be receiving a PTBNL, probably a young player (think AZL-level) from Seattle’s system. As the Reds train in Goodyear, a short jaunt from the Peoria Sports Complex, Cincinnati officials are likely well-familiar with Seattle’s system.
While it stings to lose Williamson, one of the better lefty pitching prospects in the game, Winker represents an immediate upgrade to Seattle’s outfield. Okay, probably not defensively, where he recorded a -7 OAA in left field in 2021, thanks partially to being incredibly unfleet of foot—third-worst in sprint speed among qualified LF in 2021. But that’s not what you care about with Jesse Winker. What you care about with Jesse Winker is all this good stuff right here:
The lefty-batting Winker didn’t just put up an eye-popping 24 HR with a .305 average in the tiny bandbox known as GABP; his batted-ball data suggests that production was both expected and sustainable, with negligible home-road splits. That’s partially due to superior pitch selection. Winker knows how to wait for his pitch and find one he can do damage on, and he’s especially adept at punishing mistake pitches that leak into the heart of the plate.
That’s quite a breath of fresh air considering the number of Mariners batters over the past few years who, while exercising good strike zone judgement, simply don’t have the juice to punish mistakes [sighs in J.P.].
Jomboy’s All Star starting outfielder Jesse Winker hits another home run! pic.twitter.com/S8QTeo6r0X— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) June 4, 2021
But make no mistake, he can punish good pitches too, as seen here handling some high heat from Astros pitcher/bank loan officer Justin Verlander:
Tonight's leadoff hitter, Jesse Winker, starts the game off with a home run! pic.twitter.com/6ioOg8ps7i— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) June 18, 2019
Winker also brings the #goodvibes with a playful, slightly snarky personality; check out this video of him singing Blink-182 with Nick Castellanos’s son, or of trading a signed ball to an opposing fan with a sign reading “Jesse Winker is a straight-up bitch.” Or this extremely relatable content:
Reds outfielder Jesse Winker ranks fourth in the NL with 19 home runs.— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) July 3, 2021
Home run derby?
“I don’t want to do it. I want to go watch and drink a beer and enjoy it…. I’m going to go watch Shohei Ohtani do it. I’m going to really enjoy all of it.”
That would be extremely me if I ever was named an All-Star, and I salute him for it.
The other piece in this trade, Eugenio Suárez, comes along as a salary dump for the Reds, who gave him a backloaded 6-year/$66M contract in 2018. The Mariners will be responsible for about half of that for the soon-to-be 31-year-old, at a base salary of $11M for the next three years (there’s also a $15M club option for the final year of the contract). Suárez is a long way off from the four-win player he was in 2017-19, but he’s probably also not as bad as he was in 2020-21, when he scuffled around the Mendoza Line and saw his strikeouts shoot up to nearly 30%. Suárez did perk up towards the end of last season, and maybe the change of scenery will do him good.
The deal is about money, of course (why else would it cost so releatively little to get Jesse Winker, a young player with excellent, eye, contact, and power ability), but Eugenio Suárez did show signs of life late last year, when he started laying off balls and hitting fly balls pic.twitter.com/6slDwrzfdQ— Eno Sarris (@enosarris) March 14, 2022
As far as how today’s trade impacts future moves, this does seem to indicate a Seiya Suzuki signing is off the table, with Haniger-Kelenic-Winker-Lewis all churning through the outfield/DH spots with Julio eventually in the mix, as well. That is a bummer, as I had grown somewhat attached to the idea of Seiya Suzuki, Seattle Mariner. Also a bummer: if the Mariners sit on the pile of cash they’ve saved by not fielding a competitive team since 2019 and don’t use that to leverage one more infield bat. There’s plenty of money left to spend and moves left to make; here’s hoping the next one uses plain old cash rather than hard-won prospect capital.
Offensively, the Mariners seem to be done "transacting" ... "The likelihood is, that's our offensive team. You're looking at it," Jerry Dipoto said.— Daniel Kramer (@DKramer_) March 14, 2022