Editorials

Seattle Mariners Free Agent Profile: Mike Zunino

The off-season is only weeks from the beginning which means that Mariners fans have plenty of time to dream about potential additions to their big league squad. We asked you on Twitter (@controlthezone) who you wanted us to write about and today, we start widdling down that list by taking a look at a former Seattle Mariner. 

The Mariners Twittersphere loves most of the former players. It’s both one of the most endearing and enraging parts of being a part of the Mariners zeitgeist. But very few have been rooted for harder than Mike Zunino. Of course, some will scoff at the idea of rooting for a bust like Zunino, but those folks are far and few between. Zunino is one of the most likable guys in baseball. 

So, it’s not all surprising that some people out there may want him back. But does it make sense? Well, actually no. The Seattle Mariners have, on paper, a solid catching tandem in Tom Murphy and Luis Torrens. The club’s top catching prospect, Cal Raleigh, might see the big leagues as early as 2021. So no, Seattle doesn’t need to carry a third catcher. 

Particularly one that carries no offensive value and isn’t a significant upgrade defensively over either incumbent to put his bat in the lineup on an everyday basis. Believe it or not, Zunino’s bat got worse after he left Seattle. With the Mariners, he hit .207/.276/.406. With the Rays, it has dropped to .161/.233/.323 in 373 plate appearances.  

In addition, Zunino will enter the 2021 season in his age-30 season, with plenty of miles on his knees. Yes, Zunino is an above-average defender. Yes, he is a popular player that pitchers like to throw to. But he just can’t hit enough to make sense for the Mariners, at least not as the roster is currently constructed. 

If Murphy or Torrens were to be traded or become injured, Zunino could make some sense. But using a 40 man roster spot isn’t ideal and Zunino is unlikely to take a MILB deal. Ultimately, he’ll likely sign on with a team that will not have the depth that Seattle has. Zunino’s defense and power are enough to give him value to some teams big league roster. Unfortunately, that team is not the Seattle Mariners.

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