Adam Frazier’s phone rang twice on Saturday morning: first from Padres general manager A.J. Preller, and then from Mariners President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto.
The 29-year-old All-Star was on the move.
55 days following the conclusion of a 90-win season that carried postseason aspirations until the final game, Dipoto swung a trade to bolster Seattle’s roster for 2022. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported first — and the Mariners officially announced the move an hour later — that Seattle had acquired 2B/OF Adam Frazier from the San Diego Padres.
“The team’s obviously trying to win right now, and that’s what I want to do,” Frazier told reporters on a video call. “I got to watch them a little bit last year, following along their second half. They’re just really fun to watch and a good group of guys that seem very close, tight knit... looking forward to getting in there and going to work with them.”
Seattle’s front office told reporters last month that a middle infielder and starting pitcher were at the top of their offseason wish list, and Dipoto’s latest move checks off the first box.
“Adam is a proven, versatile and well-rounded player,” Dipoto said through a press release. “His presence makes our lineup longer and our team more complete.”
There were rumblings last summer that Frazier would be a trade deadline acquisition for the playoff-hungry Mariners. In the opening months of 2021, Frazier slashed .324/.388/.488 and earned his first career All-Star appearance for the last-place Pittsburgh Pirates.
But San Diego sent three players to Pittsburgh before the July 30 deadline and acquired Frazier for a playoff push of their own.
Seattle missed on their goal of acquiring Frazier then, but Dipoto stayed in touch with San Diego’s front office throughout the offseason and at GM meetings earlier this month, he said. When both sides agreed on players being sent in the deal, they pushed the trade across, and finalized the move Saturday morning.
Now, it’s the Padres shipping Frazier for a pair of prospects: the Mariners sent minor leaguers Ray Kerr (LHP) and Corey Rosier (OF) in the deal.
Frazier, who turns 30 next month, can play multiple positions, and will join Seattle’s roster as their second baseman. That’s subject to change, per Dipoto, given Frazier’s versatility as a defender. Before the arrival of Abraham Toro, Seattle struggled to generate offense from the second base position, and Frazier represents a need filled.
And such flexibility provides Seattle’s front office with the ability to go after other free-agent infielders, like Marcus Semien or Kris Bryant, who are said to be offseason targets.
“I spoke with (Adam) this morning, and asked him what his comfort level was in moving around the field,” Dipoto told reporters. “And his answer was, ‘perfect. Whatever the team needs me to do.’ ... We’re going to view him as our second baseman, but we also believe that there are a lot of opportunities to move him into left field and maximize the handedness matchups that we might be able to achieve.”
Frazier debuted for the Pirates in 2016, though last season, statistically speaking, was his best. His .305 average for both Pittsburgh and San Diego last season led all second baseman in MLB, and Frazier added 83 runs, 36 doubles, five triples, and five home runs.
Frazier also stole 10 bases and walked 48 times in 2021. He ranked sixth in the majors with a bWAR of 4.0.
“When you swing around the TV, you’re surfing the channels in the postseason, there’s a lot of Adam Frazier’s that are playing in the postseason,” Dipoto said. “And for a reason. They do all the little things.”
Seattle’s front office had kept on eye on Frazier well before the deadline deal that sent him to San Diego last summer. After his 2016 debut, Dipoto liked what he saw, and it was evident Frazier “did the things that we really value.”
Frazier’s contract adds $7.5 million to next season’s payroll, and expires after the 2022 season.
“I’m not the biggest guy in the lineup, that’s for sure,” Frazier said. “I’m not really trying to elevate and celebrate very often. ... I think it’s just going back to understand who I am as a hitter, who they think I am as a hitter, and know my role. Get on base where I can, and let guys drive me in.”
“He just makes us a better, more complete team,” Dipoto said. “I believe that. He can hit at the top of the lineup. He can move the lineup from roughly any position. He can play second, he can touch third, he’s played both left and right (field). And that just gives us so much flexibility with what we do with the other players.
“And 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.”
The first domino fell in what projects to be a busy offseason for the front office, but the Mariners aren’t done yet. They’ve already met with up to eight free agent targets, more than double their expectation to this point, Dipoto said.
That’s mainly due to an alleged rush in activity, given the potential for a lockout if owners and the MLBPA fail to accept a new bargaining agreement by 11:59 p.m. Dec. 1.
Also of note: offers from Seattle currently stand for two free agents, one of which is “notable.”
“I wouldn’t call it chaotic. It’s just fun,” Dipoto said. “We’re open ears. We’re gonna continue to try to push and add players, and mostly that’s because there seems to be a sense of urgency in the industry, and we want to make sure that we are on that same wavelength.”
Kerr, 27, appeared in 12 games for Triple-A Tacoma in 2021 before Saturday’s trade. He threw 11 innings, allowing eight hits and five runs after a promotion from Double-A Arkansas.
Rosier, 22, notched a .390 average and slugged .585 in 31 games for Low-A Modesto in 2021.