The Mariners announced that catcher Jesus Sucre has been traded to the Rays in exchange for a player to named later or cash. The 28-year-old Sucre had recently been designated for assignment and outrighted off the 40-man roster, so he’ll head to camp with the Rays as a non-roster invitee.
Sucre has hit for average in the minors, batting .279/.312/.341 across parts of four Triple-A seasons, but he’s never been able to produce at the plate in the Majors. In parts of four seasons with Seattle, he owns a collective .209/.246/.276 batting line in 264 trips to the plate. There may be some temptation to assume that the pitcher-friendly Safeco Field has played a role in those struggles, but Sucre’s .640 OPS at home in his career dwarfs his .415 road mark.
Though he’s struggled at the plate, Sucre has proven to be an adept defender, throwing out 35 percent of attempted base thieves in his big league career. He’s routinely received average to above-average grades for his pitch-framing skills as well. Dating back to his prospect days with the Braves, Sucre has been touted as a strong overall defender, with Baseball America previously calling his arm a “cannon” and rating him as the best defensive backstop in Atlanta’s system in 2010.
The Rays signed Wilson Ramos earlier this offseason with the hope that he can eventually shoulder the load behind the plate following last September’s ACL tear. He’ll miss at least a couple of months of the 2017 campaign, leaving Curt Casali and Luke Maile to handle the bulk of the catching duties early in the year. Sucre could conceivably challenge that pair for playing time in Spring Training, or he could simply head to Triple-A as a defensive-minded depth piece.
There have also been rumors connecting the Rays to free-agent catcher Matt Wieters, although at this point there’s been nothing to suggest that Tampa Bay is in serious pursuit of the former Oriole or that any form of offer has been made.