Reds Trade Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez To Mariners As Teardown Continues
After posting winning records each of the last two seasons and ending a six-year playoff drought, the Reds are tearing down in full.
One day after trading ace Sonny Gray to the Twins, the Reds sent all-star outfielder Jesse Winker and third baseman Eugenio Suarez to the Mariners on Monday. In exchange, the Reds received righthander Justin Dunn, outfielder Jake Fraley, lefthanded pitching prospect Brandon Williamson and a player to be named later or cash.
Winker and Suarez join Gray, catcher Tucker Barnhart and lefthander Wade Miley as top players the Reds have either traded away or let go this offseason. Additionally, outfielder Nick Castellanos remains a free agent after opting out of his contract.
March 30 update: Righthander Connor Phillips has been announced as the player to be named later. This story has been updated to include Phillips' inclusion in the deal.
Justin Dunn, RHP
Originally a first-round pick out of Boston College by the Mets in 2016, Dunn went to the Mariners in the infamous Jarred Kelenic-Edwin Diaz trade and pitched effectively in limited action over three seasons in Seattle. He went 5-4, 3.94 in 25 career starts with the Mariners, including pitching to a 3.75 ERA in 11 starts last season before suffering a season-ending right shoulder strain in June. Dunn has a solid three-pitch mix with a 93-95 mph fastball, low-80s curveball and mid-80s slider that all play against big league hitters, but his control is an issue. He has walked 69 batters in 102.2 career innings—a 6.0 walk rate—and as such has long struggled to get past the fifth inning. Dunn has still found ways to keep runs off the board even with poor control, so if he can improve it even a little bit and stay healthy, he has a chance to settle in as a solid back-of-the-rotation starter.
Jake Fraley, OF
A second-round pick of the Rays in 2016 who was sent to Seattle in the trade for Mike Zunino, Fraley is an athletic, lefthanded-hitting outfielder with power and speed, but he’s a below-average hitter who struggles badly against same-side pitching. He is best in left field with his above-average speed and fringe-average arm and will be stretched playing every day. He fits best as a platoon corner outfielder and is slated to get the bulk of the at-bats in left field for the rebuilding Reds.
Brandon Williamson, LHP
A 6-foot-6, 210-pound lefty, Williamson soared up to Double-A in his first full season last year and went 4-6, 3.39 with 153 strikeouts and 33 walks in 98 innings to establish himself as one of the top lefthanded pitching prospects in the minors. He ranks No. 83 on the BA Top 100 and was the No. 5 prospect in the Mariners system, the top farm system in baseball. Williamson’s 90-94 mph fastball plays up with late life and the deception he generates from his long limbs. It gets on hitters faster than they expect with his long extension and gets some of the highest swing-and-miss rates of any fastball in the minors. Williamson complements his fastball with a high-arcing, top-to-bottom curveball with late bite that plays against both lefthanded and righthanded hitters, and he shows feel for both an average changeup and slider. Williamson ties everything together with average control, although he gets too much of the plate at times and can be prone to allowing home runs. Williamson’s pitch mix and control give him a chance to be a mid-rotation starter. If he continues to get too much of the plate or something goes awry in his development, his fastball and curveball will play well in relief. He should open the 2022 season at Triple-A and has a chance to make his big league debut during the season.
Connor Phillips, RHP
Phillips ranked as the No. 13 prospect in the Mariners system following his pro debut in 2021. He went 7-4, 4.62 with 111 strikeouts and 46 walks in 76 innings across the Class A levels while flashing some of the best pure stuff in Seattle's system but also some of the worst control. Phillips is a high-variance prospect whose performance varies wildly from start to start. At his best, Phillips flashes a mid-90s fastball with explosive late life that gets swings and misses up in the strike zone and a mid-80s righthanders with hard, late break that gets righthanded hitters swinging feebly over it. At others, Phillips can't find the strike zone and batters spit on his pitches out of the hand, rendering his stuff irrelevant. Phillips' changeup is a well below-average third pitch that leaves him vulnerable to lefthanded batters even when he's right. His fastball and slider combination give him a chance to emerge as a dominant reliever if he can find the strike zone more consistently.
For The Mets, Top Draft Picks Are Trade Capital
Here is a look at the Mets top picks from 2016-20 and how they’ve been utilized.
Jesse Winker, OF
A former first-round pick and longtime top prospect, Winker blossomed in 2021 and earned his first all-star selection after batting .305/.394/.556 with 24 home runs and 71 RBIs. He missed most of the final six weeks with an intercostal strain, however, continuing a long history of injuries. A separated shoulder ended his season in 2018 and he suffered a neck strain in 2019, and has never played more than 113 games in a season. When healthy, Winker is a well above-average offensive performer who can hit for both average and power from the left side. He struggles against same-side pitching, but he crushes righthanders and makes enough of an impact to play everyday. Winker should slide into left field for the Mariners alongside Jarred Kelenic in center and Mitch Haniger in right. If Kyle Lewis comes back healthy and Julio Rodriguez shows he’s ready, that will give the Mariners arguably the most dangerous collection of outfielders in the American League. Winker is arbitration-eligible and under team control for the next two seasons.
Eugenio Suarez, 3B
Previously one of the most dangerous hitters in the National League, Suarez has slumped the last two seasons and has hit a combined .199/.293/.440 since the start of 2020. His defense at third base has also slumped as well, although overall he remains a roughly average defender. He began to show signs of life at the plate at the end of last season and may have been weighed down by an ill-advised attempt by the Reds to play him at shortstop, so a bounce back is possible with a return to a normal season and a full year back at his natural position. He will step in immediately as the Mariners everyday third baseman and is signed for the next three seasons, with a team option for 2025.