AJ Pierzynski is probably retiring after 2016, and Tyler Flowers has played well, but he is not the answer behind the plate. Catchers are pretty thin in the Majors these days, and we don’t have many in our system besides red hot Jonathan Morales (.350, .455 vs Lefties, 2 HR). However, Morales is 20 years old, and in Rome. The Puerto Rican Catcher is a bright prospect, but what about for the next 5 years?
Enter 25-year old Mike Zunino. Zunino was taken 3rd overall in 2012, and Mariners fans; look away for this.
1st: Carlos Correa- Houston
2nd: Byron Buxton- Minnesota
4th: Kevin Gausman- Baltimore
5th: Kyle Zimmer- Kansas City
6th: Albert Almora- ChiCubs
7th: Max Fried- Padres
These guys have all been top prospects (some still are) at some point and time. Correa is probably going to be a top 5 player for the next few years. Everyone else on this list is coming along, except Zunino. Mike is batting a career .193, and is currently sitting in AAA. His pre-draft comparison was Atlanta’s former backstop Brian McCann, but he’s not living up to the hype of a 3rd overall pick.
Zunino still has some value, he is a very solid defensive catcher and at 25 he can still be fixed. Cameron Maybin is a name that comes to mind when I think of this, a high pick who finally got it together after he got some good coaching. Kevin Seitzer showed Maybin how to shorten up his swing, and Cameron had a career year for the Braves. Zunino hit 22 Home Runs in 2014 and 11 in 2015, if Seitzer can get 25 year old Zunino to hit about .250 or above with the defense that he plays, we will have a top tier catcher in the National League. Let’s see some packages we could offer Seattle for his services:
As of today, Seattle is 8-9. Wade Miley is unsurprisingly struggling in 2016 to this point, so we could offer them a potential 5 starter and another piece for Zunino. King Felix is holding down their rotation, so maybe guys like Tyrell Jenkins and Foltynewicz would fit the bill. Rio Ruiz and Lucas Sims are off the table, Jenkins is the most expendable of the pitching prospects we have. I’d also throw in Touki Toussaint, who has been struggling badly. A project for a project. Here’s my offer to Seattle.
The Braves send P Tyrell Jenkins, P Mike Foltynewicz, and P Touki Toussaint to the Mariners for C Mike Zunino, LHP Paul Fry, and Cash Considerations
Fry is a throw in, and the cash would be wishful thinking, but I think this deal would benefit both teams. Folty has proven to be suspect at best in the majors, but like Zunino, he’s a work in progress. With Lucas Sims surging to AAA, Max Fried looking stellar, Newcomb shining, and Aaron Blair being called up; Jenkins is now expendable. Touki Toussaint has a 12.66 ERA in 3 starts, his control has been awful, but maybe another team could find use for him. Chris Ellis, Soroka, Barker, and Allard are all also on the way, so this trade shouldn’t hurt too badly if we turn Zunino around. It’s a gamble, but a gamble worth taking to fill a need.