With the General Managers Meetings underway in Carlsbad, California, we have a myriad rumors and speculation circulating throughout the baseballsphere.
Among those, Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Seattle Mariners, who we learned earlier today are open for business, have been in talks with the Tampa Bay Rays regarding slugging catcher, Mike Zunino.
Among #Mariners’ many discussions, per sources: Talks with #Rays about catcher Mike Zunino. TB has only two Cs on 40-man - Nick Ciuffo and Michael Perez, who have played 40 games combined in MLB. Only other SEA catcher on M’s 40-man is David Freitas, who has played 42 MLB games.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 6, 2018
The Tampa Bay Rays currently have a catching tandem of Nick Ciuffo and Michael Perez, but are not content to keep it that way for Opening Day. According to Rosenthal and Jon Heyman, the Rays have a large list of catchers, including Mike Zunino, that they are pursuing, but the attention on Seattle today is remarkable.
Zunino, a six year major league veteran, is coming off a 20 HR season in 2018 with the Seattle Mariners.
A three true outcome player, Zunino hit .201/.259/.410 over 405 plate appearances, registering a 84 wRC+. He also struck out at 37% clip, a career high for him. Despite that offensive showing, Zunino still managed to put up 1.5 fWAR over the course of the season.
Zunino will turned 28 in March and is still under contract through the 2020 season, being arbitration eligible for just the second time this offseason. MLB Trade Rumors has projected Zunino to make $4.2M through arbitration. He also ranks well via the advanced metrics at Baseball Prospectus, with the 17th best Adjusted Framing Runs Above Average in 2018 (6.6), ranking just ahead of plus defender Martin Maldonado (also a free agent!).
It will be a busy offseason for the Rays and these are surely just the first in a long series of tweets and blurbs about the Rays being active.