Seattle Mariners Acquire Danny Valencia From Oakland

The 2016 Seattle Mariners were on the verge of making the playoffs for the first time since 2001 this season, but two losses to the Oakland Athletics in the season’s final weekend ultimately cost them any shot at the wild card game. Today, the Mariners made a depth move.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the Seattle Mariners have acquired hard-hitting (both with the bat and a wicked right) Danny Valencia from the A’s in exchange for minor leaguer Paul Blackburn.

Valencia had received regular playing time with the A’s for about a year, until the team brought up Ryon Healy to man third base, ultimately displacing Valencia to the outfield as well as seeing some time at first base. In 2016 he hit .287 with 17 home runs and 51 driven in in 130 games. According to FanGraphs, he tallied a 118 wRC+, which is 18% above league average, but accumulated a WAR of just 1.1.

After starting the season off on fire, Valencia’s production dwindled from hitting .294 and .359 in the first two months, to topping out at .272 (August) and falling as low as .233 (July), mustering a couple of home runs each month after accumulating eight in May alone.

Defensively Valencia was horrid at third base, with a DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) of -18, meaning that 18 additional runs were allowed to cross home plate compared to the average fielder.

The Mariners will be Valencia’s seventh team since he debuted in 2010, which has lead to speculation that it’s his attitude that has kept him moving from place to place, not his production. He also punched former teammate Billy Butler after the two had a dispute over cleats, so that speculation isn’t necessarily unfounded.

The likely role for Valencia on the Mariners will be to split time in left field with Ben Gamel, who is atop their depth chart at the moment. Gamel is a left-hander and Valencia a righty, who has had success against LHPs in the past.

In return the Oakland A’s receive minor league pitcher Paul Blackburn, 22, who was acquired by the Mariners from the Cubs in the deal that sent Mike Montgomery to Chicago and saw Dan Vogelbach as the big return to the Pacific Northwest.

Blackburn ranked #18 on the Mariners Pipeline, who rate each of his offerings (fastball, curveball and changeup) as average, along with his control. They also state that his fastball sits 90-94 and he backs that up with a sharp curve. Consistency may be the key for Blackburn, as Pipeline states that he had several starts last year in which his fastball lacked its usual velocity (88-91) while he threw a “vanilla” curve. They give him an ETA of 2017.

Blackburn was a 1st round selection (56th overall) by the Cubs in 2012 out of Heritage High School in Brentwood, Calfornia, which is close to Oakland. With both the Mariners and Cubs Double-A affiliates, Blackburn went 9-5 with a 3.27 ERA and a 1.210 WHIP. His H/9 rate stood at 8.7, he had a BB/9 of 2.2 and a K/9 rate of 6.2. Those numbers in Double-A are quite similar to the numbers that Kendall Graveman put up in the rotation for the A’s last year. Blackburn could fit in as a back-of-the-rotation starter for Oakland come 2018, or perhaps sooner if the team continues to wheel and deal, say Sonny Gray.

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