Instead of the day before Thanksgiving like in 2016, this time, Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto waited until two days after Thanksgiving to make his first trade of this offseason.
The Mariners announced Saturday that they are acquiring second baseman Adam Frazier from the Padres in exchange for a pair of minor league prospects — left-handed pitcher Ray Kerr and outfielder Corey Rosier.
“I heard a little bit rumors past couple days that it could happen,” Frazier said via video conference. “I wasn’t expecting it this morning, but A.J. Preller called first and let me know what had gone down. Jerry and I had a great talk. I’m excited to be joining and they’re excited to have me. I’m ready to get to work.”
Frazier, who turns 30 on Dec. 14, is coming off his best season in the big leagues. He posted a .305/.368/.411 slash line with 36 doubles, five triples, five homers, 43 RBI, 10 stolen bases, 48 walks, 69 strikeouts and a 4.0 FanGraphs WAR in 155 games between the Pirates and Padres.
“Adam, to me, is one of the better strike-zone managers in baseball,” Dipoto said in a video news conference. “He’s got great contact skills. In an era where strikeouts are prevalent, he doesn’t strike out. His strikeout rates would be good in any era. He uses the field, he makes contact. He draws about an average-ish walk rate. That combination of events with the ability to hit for a high average, which is generally done as a major league player, results in significant on-base skills.”
With the second-base position providing minimal to no production at the plate last season, the Mariners tried hard to acquire Frazier from the Pirates in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline. He had already been named to the NL All-Star team and posted a .324/.388/.448 slash line with 28 doubles, four triples, four homers and 32 RBI in 98 games for the Pirates.
The Padres interrupted those efforts, sending three players to Pittsburgh for Frazier.
“We thought we were at the goal line to acquire Adam at the trade deadline last year; obviously, we missed out,” Dipoto said. “We stayed in touch with the Padres as we headed into the offseason, knowing that they had a pretty robust roster. We just liked the player, so we stuck with it through the GM meetings until yesterday when we finally were able to agree on players and push it across.”
The Mariners can use Frazier as their everyday second baseman if they choose, though they are more likely to use him in a super-utility role, taking advantage of his ability to play left field and right field and even third base.
“Play a lot of second base and maybe hop in the outfield,” Frazier said of his potential role. “That’s how I feel I can impact the team — play good defense, and try to hit the baseball and get on base any way I can.”
Dipoto and manager Scott Servais prefer positional versatility.
“We just feel like he’s a perfect fit for our lineup,” Dipoto said. “We talked about going into this offseason with the hope of adding impact to the middle of our lineup and creating more length to our lineup. I think Adam Frazier answers the length to the lineup riddle.
“He just makes us a better, more complete team. He can hit the top of the lineup, he can move he can move the lineup from roughly any position. He can play second, he can touch third, he’s played both left and right. And that just gives us so much flexibility with what we do with the other players.”
This will allow the Mariners to still pursue impact-hitting infielders on the free-agent market such as Marcus Semien, Trevor Story and Kris Bryant.
“Frankly, as we sit here and work our way through the free-agent market or the potential for trade, we felt like adding Adam made us a deeper team without stopping us from doing anything else we would have wanted to do,” Dipoto said. “That’s double the fun. We can continue to add to our team because Adam is so versatile.”
Frazier will be in his final year of salary arbitration and is projected to make around $7 million in 2022. He will be a free agent after the season.
The Mariners are giving up minimal prospect capital in return for Frazier.
Kerr, 27, was recently added to the 40-man roster to protect him from being taken in the Rule 5 draft. The left-handed reliever has a fastball that can touch 101 mph and averages around 97 mph. In 36 combined appearances between Class AA Arkansas (24 G) and Class AAA Tacoma (12 G), Kerr posted a 2-1 record with a 3.18 ERA with five saves. In 39 2/3 innings, he struck out 60 batters with 16 walks.
Rosier, 22, was a 12th-round pick in the 2021 out of UNC-Greensboro. He played in 31 games for Low-A Modesto, posting a .390/.461/.585 slash line with eight doubles, three triples, three homers, 23 RBI, 12 stolen bases, 18 walks and 20 strikeouts.