The Cincinnati Reds continued their spring training fire sale. A day after trading ace Sonny Gray to the Minnesota Twins, the Reds dealt outfielder Jesse Winker and third baseman Eugenio Suarez to the Mariners for Justin Dunn, Jake Fraley, pitching prospect Brandon Williamson, and a player to be named later.
Cincinnati will receive Justin Dunn, Brandon Williamson and Jake Fraley from the Mariners for Winker and Suarez, per source.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) March 14, 2022
The 28-year-old Winker was finally healthy (well, mostly) in 2021 and exploded for a .305 average with 24 home runs, 71 RBI, and 77 runs in just 110 games. Of course, he was then put on the IL with oblique injuries twice before his season ended early. His tremendous plate discipline (12% career walk rate) will be a great fit atop the Mariners lineup, but it does give Seattle two talented but oft-injured outfielders in Winker and Haniger. Moving away from Great American Ballpark should be a downgrade for Winker’s power profile; although, the Mariners themselves won’t care as long as he’s getting on base and continuing to drive in runs.
Also coming over to Seattle in the deal is Eugenio Suarez. A former All-Star, Suarez has fallen on hard times the last two years after suffering a shoulder injury. While he did hit 31 home runs last year, he was only able to hit .198 in 574 plate appearances, after hitting just .202 during the COVID-shortened 2020 season. He’s been a solid defensive third baseman over the last few years, and the Mariners are clearly hoping they can get him back to his old swing, but he feels like a piece the Reds were hoping to move to free themselves of the $35 million he’s owed over the next three seasons.
The big get for the Reds appears to be left-hander Brandon Williamson, who ranked as the 7th-best prospect in Seattle’s system. He’s 6’6″ with a mid-90s fastball and a strong curveball that has gotten lots of swings-and-misses in the minors. He also features a solid slider, which makes most prospect analysts believe he will stick in the rotation long-term. His raw stuff flashes high upside, so if he can get his command together or perhaps even develop his change-up as a fourth pitch, he could be a solid MLB starter for a long-time.
The Reds will also get back outfielder Jake Fraley and starting pitcher Justin Dunn, who was famously traded from the Mets along with Jared Kelenic to Seattle in the deal for Edwin Diaz. While Dunn hasn’t struck out many hitters at the major league level, he does have a 3.94 career MLB ERA; however, he is moving into a much worse ballpark and is likely no more than an end-of-rotation starter.
Fraley has produced strong numbers in the minors, including hitting .298 with 19 home runs and 22 stolen bases in 2019. While the batting average has yet to translate in the major leagues and he has had some strikeout issues, he also had nine home runs and 10 steals in just 265 plate appearances last year and could be a nice power-speed addition to an outfield that will, hopefully, feature a healthy Nick Senzel, another former top prospect.
While the Mariners may be done with big additions this offseason, it would seem likely that the Reds would keep looking to trade away players, including possibly Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle.