In a pre-Thanksgiving move, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners have made a trade. Aside from some of the pre-non-tender deals (primarily the White Sox-Braves one) made a week ago, this is the first major trade of the offseason.
Heading to the Diamondbacks will be slugging third baseman Eugenio Suárez. Going back to the Mariners is relief pitcher Carlos Vargas and catcher Seby Zavala.
Heading into the offseason, the Diamondbacks felt like the team most in need of a third baseman. Jeimer Candelario and Matt Chapman both were free agent fits, but it’s the trade market that filled the roster hole.
When the Mariners acquired Luis Urías from the Red Sox last week, the writing appeared to be on the wall for Suárez, who had just wrapped up his third year in Seattle.
Urías, is fresh off of a horrendous season in which he hit .194 in 52 games for the Brewers and Sox. He brings a weaker bat and weaker glove to the Mariners lineup, but he is also much cheaper than Suárez is, which likely played a major role in the club moving on.
The return for the Diamondbacks
As mentioned above, Suárez has a whole lot of thump in his bat and will provide Arizona with the perfect replacement for Evan Longoria and Josh Rojas. Suárez, 31, will be a free agent at the end of the upcoming season but also has a $15M team option for 2025 in his contract.
Suárez’s acquisition will give the Diamondbacks yet another power hitter to slot into the middle of their lineup. With Corbin Carroll, Ketel Marte and Christian Walker forming the core of their lineup, adding someone with Suárez’s track record is huge.
Despite the fact that he led the American League in strikeouts last year, Suárez hit 22 home runs with 96 driven in, posting a 101 OPS+ in the process. The year before, he hit 31 homers with a 129 OPS+, so he is not far removed from being a major threat at the dish.
Long known as a bat-first player, Suárez was in the 97th percentile season in Outs Above Average, per Statcast. To put that into perspective, he finished the year before in the 48th percentile. The arm strength isn’t quite there for him (40th percentile), but his range at the hot corner is legit.
The return for the Mariners
On the surface, it feels that the Mariners may have settled for less than they deserved for Suárez.
Zavala, 30, has parts of four years of big league experience under his belt. With the recent departure of Tom Murphy via free agency, the Mariners had an obvious need for a new backup. Blake Hunt was brought aboard in a trade with the Rays, but he is likely destined for Triple-A.
Zavala does not bring much of a bat to the Mariners. In 176 career games in the big leagues, he has just 14 home runs and a .347 SLG.
However, he is known as a defense-first catcher. According to Statcast, Zavala was in the 85th percentile in Blocks Above Average last year, as well as the 77th percentile in Framing. His Pop Time and Caught Stealing Above Average left much to be desired, but he has historically been a solid framer.
Vargas, 24, made his big league debut in 2023, striking out 7 batters in 4.2 innings of work. He is a flame-thrower, as his four-seam fastball sat at 99+ mph on average with a 98.8mph sinker as well.
Control has, understandably, been an issue for the young hurler. In 38 Triple-A contests last year, Vargas walked 32 batters in just 42+ innings. He’s an unrefined pitcher who has plenty to tweak when it comes to his mechanics, but the potential’s there.
Too early to determine a true winner, but the Diamondbacks are sitting pretty
It remains to be seen who will emerge as the “winner” of this deal. Ultimately the Diamondbacks may reap the benefits sooner than the Mariners do. With Suárez in the lineup, Arizona has set themselves up nicely for a second consecutive march to the World Series.