September 11, 2020
The Mariners today have outrighted Mallex Smith from their satellite training facility off of the 60-player pool of available personnel for 2020. On paper, he is now assigned to Triple-A Tacoma. The move was not, apparently, made to clear a spot on the 60-man list for someone else.
This probably ends Mallex's Mariners tenure. Though under team control as a major-leaguer through 2022, as a minor-leaguer he would be eligible for free agency after the season and he'll most likely go that route. Wouldn't you?
Mallex was a big disappointment for the M's last year after coming over from the Rays in a trade for Mike Zunino, reaching base at a rate of just .300, about 70 points below his 2018 line, and racking up 141 strikeouts. He did lead the American League in stolen bases, with 46. Still, in his two years with the Rays he was a productive leadoff man with a .350+ OBP, so one might chalk last season up to an off year and expect him to come back strong.
Unfortunately, the Mariners didn't really give him a chance to do that, letting him play for all of two weeks in the 2020 campaign, and then not consistently, before demoting him to the taxi squad. He did not have a full preseason warmup either, as he arrived late to camp due to COVID-19 testing issues.
It's a shame that this is how things went for the Florida native, as 2017-18 Mallex Smith would be exactly the kind of guy you'd want on a team like the Mariners are attempting to build, with a strong running game and on-base prowess. Instead of trying to make that happen, the club has used a veritable cornucopia of outfielders to flank Kyle Lewis this season, none of whom have distinguished themselves offensively except for out-of-position infielders Dylan Moore and Sam Haggerty. Mallex's trade companion, outfielder Jake Fraley, has similarly been given the shaft thus far in 2020, left off the roster to start the year and then banished to the satellite camp again after six games with the M's despite big talk from manager Scott Servais about how he would be given every opportunity to prove himself.
In most ways, the Mariners have used the weird 2020 mini-season well as they evaluate their stable of talent. But when it comes to those two outfielders, projected way back in spring training to be everyday players in the starting lineup, they've had the patience of the Tasmanian Devil on speed.
Best of luck, Mallex Smith, We hardly knew ye.