Zunino, who turns 31 in March, will enter his fourth season with the Rays. He was acquired in November 2018 as part of a five-player deal with the Mariners that included outfielder Guillermo Heredia coming to

Mike Zunino “Extremely Excited” Rays Picked Up His Option

ST. PETERSBURG, FL. – Prior to traveling to last season’s all-star game in Denver, Mike Zunino spoke to the media at Tropicana Field about his strong first half and how he continued to work on his approach in the batter’s box.

Specifically, the veteran catcher credited improved mechanics as a byproduct for a power surge that ultimately resulted in a career-high 33 home runs. With 19 homers at the all-star break, Zunino had already bested the Rays’ club record of 14 by a catcher (while playing the position), which was initially set by John Flaherty in 1999 and equaled by Wilson Ramos in 2018.

Zunino’s production at the plate combined with his work behind it while handling what was largely a young pitching staff resulted in the Rays picking up his $7-million option for 2022, which the team announced Sunday.

“I am extremely excited,” Zunino said about returning to the Rays. “It is one of those things where you find a place and get comfortable there. Without any long-term commitment, you sort of piece it together year by year.”

Zunino, who turns 31 in March, will enter his fourth season with the Rays. He was acquired in November 2018 as part of a five-player deal with the Mariners that included outfielder Guillermo Heredia coming to
Mike Zunino, Source: Tampa Bay Rays

That is what Zunino has been doing. Last year at this time he was not sure where he would be playing in 2021. The Rays declined to pick up his $4.5-million option in the days following their World Series loss to the Dodgers, making him a free agent. Zunino re-signed with the club in December for $2 million, plus the 2022 option with a $1-million buyout.

There was no waiting around this time.

“There is a bit of uneasiness there,” in referring to what he felt before he was re-signed last year. “(Having the option picked up) definitely takes a lot off your plate.”

In addition to his 33 homers, the Florida native and former Florida Gator drove in 62 runs, had a team-best .559 slugging percentage, and was second to Brandon Lowe with a .860 OPS.

“I started using the whole field more and I think that is a byproduct of trusting your mechanics and trusting your swing and being able to put an approach together,” he said.

Zunino, who turns 31 in March, will enter his fourth season with the Rays. He was acquired in November 2018 as part of a five-player deal with the Mariners that included outfielder Guillermo Heredia coming to St. Pete and outfielder Mallex Smith going to Seattle.

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