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Dipoto: Mariners ‘see something under the hood’ in trade pickup Jake Bauers

The Mariners sent cash to Cleveland for former top 100 prospect Jake Bauers. (Getty)

As the Mariners were preparing for their series finale in Detroit against the Tigers on Thursday morning, the front office was busy behind the scenes making a move.

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The move was sending cash to the Cleveland Indians for first baseman/outfielder Jake Bauers, a 25-year-old former top 100 prospect who has been a key part of a pair three-team trades during his career. Bauers is in the Mariners lineup on Thursday against the Tigers, hitting seventh and playing first base.

A seventh-round pick by the San Diego Padres out of high school in 2013, Bauers was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in 2014 in a 10-player deal that notably landed the Padres outfielder Wil Myers and the Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner. Bauers made his MLB debut with the Rays in 2018.

After the 2018 season, the Rays traded Bauers to Cleveland in a deal that involved the Mariners acquiring first baseman/designated hitter Edwin Encarnación.

Bauers is someone who hasn’t quite lived up to his promise as a onetime top prospect, as he currently has a career slash line of .211/.309/.365 with 25 home runs in 256 career games. In 2021, he’s slashing .190/.277/.280.

So what exactly drew the Mariners to Bauers from Cleveland? Thursday morning on 710 ESPN Seattle’s weekly Jerry Dipoto Show, the Mariners general manager broke it down.

“Jake is 25 years old and he has always been a name or in prospect rankings that we’ve thought very highly of,” Dipoto said. “He still fits.”

Dipoto noted that Bauers has less than two total years of MLB service time, and despite the lack of sustained success at the big-league level, he sees a lot to like in his latest acquisition.

“He’s done a lot of really interesting things along the way,” he said. “And like with a lot of our players, we see something under the hood in his pitch selection and his exit velocities that intrigue us enough that giving him some run here while we have opportunities is a wise thing and hopefully it leads to good outcomes for both of us where he’s here for a while.”

According to Statcast, Bauers is striking out less than the MLB average, has a higher hard-hit rate than the league average, has roughly an average walk rate, and his average exit velocity is above-average among MLB players. And while he’s hitting just .190 this year, his expected batting average (xBA) is .260, which is above the MLB average xBA of .220.

The Mariners are currently without first baseman Evan White, who is starting a rehab assignment Thursday with Triple-A Tacoma coming off a hip injury. And with center fielder Kyle Lewis sidelined due to injury and top outfield prospect Jarred Kelenic in Triple-A after a recent demotion, Bauers likely has the opportunity to play nearly every day for the foreseeable future.

Bauers also offers some defensive flexibility, which is something that Dipoto and his staff covet.

“Positionally he fits for us. He plays first base and both corner outfield positions and he’s a left-handed hitter that gives us a good bit of versatility that we’ve always been fond of,” he said.

You can catch The Jerry Dipoto Show every Thursday at 8:30 a.m. on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant. Listen to the latest edition at this link or in the player below.

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