By John Manuel
December 11, 2001
BOSTON–The Seattle Mariners won 116 games, as many as any team in baseball history, yet general manager Pat Gillick said he was coming to the Winter Meetings looking to fill holes on his ballclub.
He started that tinkering Tuesday, trading with the Padres to acquire catcher Ben Davis, infielder Alex Arias and righthander Wascar Serrano. In exchange, the Padres received veteran catcher Tom Lampkin, righthander Brett Tomko, shortstop Ramon Vazquez and cash considerations.
“We really like Ben Davis,” Gillick said of the 24-year-old, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 1995 draft. “It’s tough to find a young catcher with his upside. Arias deepens our bench and gives us protection around the infield. Serrano is a young pitcher who gives Lou (Piniella) some options either in the rotation or in the bullpen.”
Davis, a switch-hitter, batted .239-11-57 and threw out 33 percent of opposing baserunners (34 of 104). The Padres selected him immediately after Darin Erstad in ’95, just ahead of the Mariners’ selection of Jose Cruz Jr. The pick was criticized at the time and especially in 1998, when righthander Kerry Wood, whom the Cubs had selected at No. 4 that year, blossomed.
Arias, 33, could figure into the Mariners’ third-base picture but figures to continue in a utility role, having started at all four infield spots last year for the Padres. Arias hit .226-2-12 in 137 at-bats and is a career .266 hitter in 769 games.
Serrano, 23, entered the season as the Padres’ No. 3 prospect and adds to Seattle’s pitching depth. Serrano started the year at Triple-A Portland but had three separate callups to the big leagues. He went 6-5, 4.53 in 93 1/3 innings at Triple-A and went 3-3, 6.56 in 46 2/3 innings in San Diego. He gave up 60 hits and walked 21 while striking out 39.
The Padres get Tomko, 28, who has three big league seasons with 30 starts on his résumé. Tomko spent most of 2001 in Triple-A, going 10-6, 4.04 for Tacoma, but is 39-32, 4.45 in the big leagues, much of it with the Reds prior to coming to Seattle in the Ken Griffey trade.
Vazquez, 25, had a breakout season for the Mariners and was named the most exciting player by managers in the Pacific Coast League. He batted .300-10-79 and was a pre- and postseason all-star in the PCL. Vazquez had been involved in virtually every Mariners trade rumor in the offseason.
Lampkin, 37, is a career .238 hitter and batted .225-5-22 in 2001. He played for the Padres from 1990-92.