The Mariners and Rays have a recent history of dealmaking, from being partners in the three-way trade that sent David Price
to Detroit in 2014 to last year's trade that sent Brad Miller
and Logan Morrison
to Tampa Bay for Nate Karns
and two others.
They struck another deal on Friday night. The Mariners sent righthander Dylan Thompson, first baseman Dalton Kelly and righthander Andrew Kittredge to the Rays in exchange for utilityman Taylor Motter and first baseman Richie Shaffer.
The Mariners gain two prospects closer to the majors and able to help them sooner, while the Rays gain some intriguing long-term assets in Thompson and Kelly.
Both Shaffer and Motter spent most of 2016 at Triple-A Durham, while Kittredge is the only Mariners player with experience above low Class A.
It was the first trade swung by new Rays general manager Erik Neander, who was promoted to his current position on Nov. 4.
A 25-year-old from Charlotte, Shaffer has shown more power than hitting ability as a pro with a .246/.333/.437 slash line in 501 minor league games. After hitting 30 homers between three stops in 2015, he regressed with his power production, hitting just 12 homers in 468 at-bats between Triple-A Durham and Tampa Bay. Shaffer has tinkered over his career with his leg kick and timing at the plate but hasn’t consistently solved having some length in his swing, which leads to swing-and-miss. He also struggled with getting too pull-happy at times this past season. He’s a below-average hitter for average at best, which keeps him from getting to his prodigious raw power. Defensively his best asset is a plus arm, but his modest short-area quickness and fringy speed make him below-average to fringy at challenging defensive spots like third base and right field. However, he’s a solid first baseman.
— John Manuel
|Tampa Bay (AL)||MAJ||.250||20||48||5||12||6||0||1||4||5||18||0||.315||.438|
A college shortstop at Coastal Carolina, Motter had made just 50 starts at short over his previous five seasons with the Rays. Instead, he was being developed consistently as a utility player, starting at every position other than catcher and pitcher thanks to his plus arm strength and strong athletic ability. He played much more shortstop in 2016 than before and is capable there; right field might be his best spot thanks to his arm, but he’s capable virtually everywhere. He’s an average runner but has savvy on the bases, as well as enough power to punish mistakes. His bat regressed in 2016, but scouts who like him see him as a quality multi-position reserve.
— John Manuel
|Tampa Bay (AL)||MAJ||.188||33||80||11||15||3||0||2||9||11||19||0||.290||.300|
The Mariners drafted Thompson in the fourth round in 2015 and he showed well early, but his season ended prematurely when he returned home to be with his ailing father, who was battling cancer. He made only four starts in 2016 for the same reason and struggled with rust when he returned to the mound in August, but showed his promise when he drew the start in the clinching game of the Arizona League Championship Series and delivered four innings with only one hit and one run allowed. Thompson throws an 87-91 mph fastball, which he showed he could ramp up to 93 in high school, and his top pitch is a 74-79 mph curveball that was regarded as one of the best in the Mariners’ system. His changeup is currently below average but projects to average as he develops. He is a long-term project who has never pitched above Rookie League, but the Mariners believed he had a chance to develop into a back-of-the-rotation starter.
— Kyle Glaser
Kelly opened the 2015 season as UC Santa Barbara’s starting first baseman but had his season cut short by a fractured fibula in April. He still tied for the team lead in home runs when the season was out and had the most defensive chances in the Big West Conference without an error at the time he went down. That was enough for the Mariners to take him in the 38th round, and Kelly has rewarded them with strong performance on at the plate, in the field, and on the basepaths. He ranked among the Midwest League leaders in runs, doubles, total bases and OPS in his first full season, stole 21 bases, and posted a .991 fielding percentage. Kelly doesn’t have anything plus, but nothing below-average either, giving him a chance to rise as a solid, all-around first baseman.
— Kyle Glaser
Kittredge has taken the long path up the minors but is on the verge after posting a 3.55 ERA with 11.1 strikeouts-per-nine at Triple-A Tacoma last year. He was a late addition to the Arizona Fall League this month. Kittredge features a mid-90s fastball, mid-80s slider and mid-70s curveball and has steadily improved his control throughout his career, giving him a chance to make his major league debut as a middle reliever next season.
— Kyle Glaser