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(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Former Gator Mike Zunino Traded to Tampa Bay

The Seattle Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays have agreed to a trade just a few short weeks after the conclusion of the season. Seattle is sending Mike Zunino, Guillermo Heredia and Michael Plassmeyer to Tampa Bay for Mallex Smith and Jake Fraley.

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The key pieces in the trade are Zunino and Smith, both of whom played their college baseball in Gainesville.

Zunino played for the Gators from 2010-2012 and led the team to three straight College World Series appearances. He left college at the conclusion of his junior year after being selected with the 3rd overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft by the Mariners.

Zunino has had a decent MLB career but has not lived up to lofty expectations. He is a subpar hitter with a .207 career batting average, but has elite power. He has hit 20 or more home runs in two straight seasons and has also hit double digit home runs in five straight years. Zunino is a natural catcher, but the Mariners utilized his power by occasionally using him as a designated hitter.

The former Gator is one of the elite defensive catchers in the game. He was recently named the 2018 Wilson Defensive Player of the Year at catcher.

Mallex Smith was originally drafted out of high school in the 13th round of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. He chose to decline this opportunity to go play college baseball at Santa Fe College. Smith stayed one season before being drafted in the 5th round of the 2012 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres.

He spent time with the Padres and Atlanta Braves before being traded to the Rays in 2017. Smith had a career year in 2018 for the Rays. He batted .296 with 40 RBIs and 40 stolen bases, all of which are career highs. Smith will look to continue his MLB ascension in Seattle.

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