In July, the Padres sent a trio of prospects headlined by infielder/outfielder Tucupita Marcano to the Pittsburgh Pirates for second baseman Adam Frazier, hoping to fuel a run to the playoffs. Four months – and no playoff games – later, the club has sent Frazier to the Seattle Mariners for lefty reliever Ray Kerr and outfielder Corey Rosier.
Frazier, who didn’t have an obvious fit on the big league roster in 2022, made the National League All-Star team with a strong first half. However, in 211 plate appearances with the Padres, he fit in with a roster that underperformed, hitting just .267/.327/.335 and didn’t have quite the defensive versatility as advertised.
In moving on from the soon-to-be 30-year-old, the Padres added an interesting center fielder who impressed after he was drafted this summer and a lefty reliever who was just added to the Mariners’ 40-player roster this week. The club also eliminated a salary commitment expected to be north of $7 million in arbitration.
In landing Rosier and Kerr, the Padres get an outfielder whose hit tool gives him a higher floor than that of Jack Suwinski, who was in the middle of a breakout at Double-A when the club traded him for Frazier in July, and a big league-ready reliever with three option years.
Kerr, 27, signed as an undrafted free agent out of junior college in 2017, put up stellar numbers in Double-A to open the 2021 campaign, striking out 37.4% of the batters he faced while walking just 8.7%. Following a late-August promotion to the Triple-A West league, he continued to rack up strikeouts but saw his walk rate jump significantly. Armed with a triple-digit fastball and a split-finger fastball that gets plenty of swings-and-misses, Kerr held opponents to a .184 across the two levels this season.
Kerr was a development success for the Mariners, who helped him add significant velocity. His breakout in 2019 at Modesto came under the tutelage of pitching coach Rob Marcello, who the Padres hired as minor league pitching coordinator earlier this month.
The Padres expected their left-handed relief to be a strength in 2021, but Drew Pomeranz and Matt Strahm combined for just 31 innings and Jose Castillo never saw action.
Rosier, who turned 22 in September, was the Mariners’ 12th-round pick in July following a solid junior year at UNC-Greensboro. He emerged as a draft prospect in his lone season with the Knights, posting a strong 28:25 strikeout-to-walk ratio and swiping 17 bases in 23 attempts. He continued that performance in his professional debut, posting a stellar .390/.461/.585 line playing for Seattle’s affiliate in Low-A affiliate in Modesto after a brief pit stop in the Arizona Complex League.
A left-handed hitter who throws right-handed – a profile that pops up frequently in the Padres organization – Rosier struck out in just 14.2% of his Low-A West plate appearances, fifth among batters who made as many trips to the plate as he did. He joins six other Padres prospects who were among the top 25 on the circuit in strikeout rate, including fellow outfielder Angel Solarte.
The Maryland native, who went undrafted out of high school and Chipola (Fla.) Junior College, profiles as a true center fielder defensively. His opening day assignment for 2022 will probably be in High-A Fort Wayne but how much time he logs in center likely depends on where Robert Hassell III begins the year.