Zunino signed a one-year, $4.4125 deal with the Rays on Friday, avoiding arbitration, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports. Zunino earned a raise of nearly $1.5 million despite his offensive numbers falling to a three-year low in 2018. After posting a 117 wRC+ in 2016 and a 127 mark in 2017, the catcher's line fell to just .201/.259/.410 last year, good for just an 84 wRC+. He'll hope to turn things around as the Rays' new primary catcher this year.
The Mariners traded Zunino to the Rays on Thursday along with Guillermo Heredia and Michael Plassmeyer in exchange for Mallex Smith and Jake Fraley. The deal was reported as agreed upon late Wednesday night and the medical reviews were completed by early Thursday. Zunino seems like a classic target of the Rays as a low-average, power-hitting catcher with plus defense and good pitch-framing numbers. He hit just .201/.259/.410 in 2018 but reached 20 homers for the third time in five years. The 27-year-old slots in as the Rays' unquestioned No. 1 catcher.
Zunino is out of the lineup for Sunday's game against the Rangers, Ryan Divish of The Seattle Times reports. Zunino started five of the last six games but is 1-for-10 with four strikeouts and a walk in his last 11 plate appearances. The 27-year-old struggled with a .201/.259/.410 slash line despite 20 home runs this season. David Freitas will start at catcher and bat eighth for the Mariners.
Zunino is not in the lineup Wednesday against the A's. Zunino will get the night off after catching all 11 innings during Tuesday's extra-innings win, going 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles and a run scored. Chris Herrmann will pick up a start behind the dish in place of Zunino, hitting ninth.
Zunino went 2-for-3 with a run in a loss to the Athletics on Monday. The slugging backstop finally got his average back over the Mendoza Line with Monday's effort, his third multi-hit tally over the last seven starts. Zunino has reached the 20-homer mark for the second straight season, but an overall drop in extra-base hits (36 in 2018, compared to 50 in 2017 over just 29 more at-bats) has led to a 96-point tumble in slugging percentage to. 413 -- his lowest number in the category over the last three campaigns.