The Padres didn’t need Seth Smith, and traded him to the Mariners. The Mariners are getting themselves a nice little hitter, especially against right-handed pitching. Jeff will likely have more on Brandon Maurer, who was the Padres’ return for Smith, in the next couple of days, but until then I wanted to type up a little something about Eli Manning’s backup quarterback (it’s true).
Eno reminded us about players with a very defined skill set on Monday, and that is definitely how you would describe Smith. He’s not a very adept defender. He isn’t a complete sieve, but he’s certainly not around for his defense. He’s not the worst baserunner, but he wouldn’t be the first runner you picked to steal a base. Probably not the second either. And he isn’t much against left-handed pitching. Well, he was last year in an incredibly small sample, but given his track record that probably won’t persist.
What Smith does do well is hit right-handed pitching. Since his debut in 2007, there have been 169 batters to compile 2,000 or more plate appearances against right-handed pitchers. Smith is tied for 36th in wRC+. Pretty good, right? Especially for a part-time player. And for a team looking to add a corner bench or platoon bat this offseason, it would have been hard for the Mariners to do better. Let’s look at the players on this list, their current status, and their stats vs. righties since 2007 to drive home the point:
So, there are a few players who are likely available with the same skill set, but most of them — Fielder, Choo, Ethier, Hamilton, Howard, Gonzalez, Beltran, and Teixeira — are either very expensive, come with injury concerns, or both.
There are a couple of standouts here — Morneau and Utley most notably — which is nice company to be in. When you add in positional concerns though, Smith sort of stands alone. Utley could probably play the outfield, but I doubt you’d get him to waive his no-trade clause to do so. Perhaps they could have landed Joyce if they had acted sooner, and Joyce is probably Smith’s best comp. But at this moment, given the objective of trying to find an available player with a great track record of mashing against righties and who doesn’t cost a fortune, it would have been hard for the Mariners to do better than Seth Smith.
Paul Swydan used to be the managing editor of The Hardball Times, a writer and editor for FanGraphs and a writer for Boston.com and The Boston Globe. Now, he owns The Silver Unicorn Bookstore, an independent bookstore in Acton, Mass. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan. Follow the store @SilUnicornActon.
I’d argue Votto along with his $210M left on his contract are available.