SEATTLE -- Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto engineered his ninth trade of the offseason on Monday, acquiring promising second-base prospect Shed Long from the Yankees in exchange for 2018 second-round Draft pick Josh Stowers.Dipoto said Long has been on the Mariners' radar all offseason as they've looked to piece together
SEATTLE -- Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto engineered his ninth trade of the offseason on Monday, acquiring promising second-base prospect Shed Long from the Yankees in exchange for 2018 second-round Draft pick Josh Stowers.
Dipoto said Long has been on the Mariners' radar all offseason as they've looked to piece together a new young nucleus that should come together in the 2020-21 range.
"Shed very much fits into the profile of what we're trying to do," Dipoto said. "He's young, athletic and we think he'll wind up being multi-position versatile. Second base will remain his primary position, but he's too good of an athlete not to try to move him around the field and see what works.
"We think second base, third base, left field, and he's athletic enough to play center. And he's got real sock in the bat and the on-base to have upper-part-of-the-order potential."
Utility man Kaleb Cowart was designated for assignment to open a 40-man roster spot for Long. Cowart was going to be given an opportunity to play in the field and as a potential reliever after being claimed from the Angels in December, but he now will have to clear waivers to remain in the Seattle organization.
Long, 23, was only with the Yankees momentarily as he was part of the package sent from the Reds in exchange for right-hander Sonny Gray. The 5-foot-8, 182-pound Long was the Reds' No. 7-ranked prospect per MLB Pipeline.
New York then flipped him to Seattle for Stowers, a 21-year-old out of Louisville who was No. 10 on the Mariners' prospect list. Stowers slashed .260/.380/.410 with five homers, 28 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in 200 at-bats over 58 games for Class A Short-Season Everett in his first season of pro ball last year.
The Mariners have since acquired several promising outfield prospects, including Jarred Kelenic from the Mets (their new No. 2-ranked prospect), Dom Thompson-Williams (No. 16) from the Yankees and Jake Fraley (No. 21) from the Rays. That group joins returning prospects Kyle Lewis (No. 4), Braden Bishop (No. 8) and Eric Filia (No. 22).
Long adds some needed infield depth as Seattle doesn't have any top prospects who appear Major League ready at second base, where Dee Gordon will take over the permanent starting role after Robinson Cano's trade to the Mets in December.
Long was targeted to open this year in Triple-A with the Reds and is on that same schedule with the Mariners.
"He played at an All-Star level in Double-A last year and has been through the [Arizona] Fall League," Dipoto said. "He'll come to camp with a chance to show us what can do. The likelihood is he'll start out in Tacoma, but he becomes a pretty pivotal part of our growth with what we think of his explosive athletic ability, either as an everyday second baseman or a variety of positions. We just really like his athleticism."
Dipoto said Stowers was drafted as the "best player available" in the second round last June and the Mariners like his potential as well, but noted things have changed considerably since with the addition of both a number of outfield prospects, but also young Major Leaguers Mallex Smith to play center and Domingo Santana in left.
"Outfield is an area of depth, but we're still short in that regard in the infield," Dipoto said. "The athleticism and versatility [of Long] made this an easy no-brainer for us."
Long originally was drafted as a catcher, but quickly was converted to a second baseman with left-handed power potential and the ability to hit to all fields. He posted a .261/.353/.412 line with 12 homers and 56 RBIs in 452 at-bats over 126 games with Double-A Pensacola last year in the Reds' system.
"I had a few inconsistencies with my bat throughout the season," Long told MLB Pipeline at the recent MLB Rookie Career Development Program in Virginia. "It's not always going to be good, but it wasn't as good as I wanted it to be. Overall, it was a pretty good year. Defensively, I made a lot of improvements, and I'm still working to continue to make improvements. I really want to focus offensively this year and just to be more consistent than last year."
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.