Oakland made a trade on Saturday that probably wasn’t surprising to many as they traded veteran 3rd baseman Danny Valencia to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for minor league right-handed pitcher Paul Blackburn.
This trade actually makes a lot of sense for the Athletics because they really don’t have much of a role going forward for Valencia. Ryan Healy had an impressive year for Oakland and he is a much younger and cheaper option for the Athletics at 3rd base than Valencia. Also, Valencia is set to be a free agent after the 2017 season which means the Athletics would have had to pay a lot to re-sign him and it was good for them to get something for him before he departs for free agency. Meanwhile, Paul Blackburn is a pretty good pitching prospect that the Athletics are picking up since he was the 18th best prospect in Seattle’s system. Blackburn is only 22 years old and he had an impressive year in Double-A last season as he went 9-5 with a 3.27 ERA. He will in all likelihood be promoted to the Triple-A level for the start of 2017, but if he pitches well then he could find himself a rotation spot late in the season on a rebuilding Oakland team. Valencia was a very quality player for the Athletics, yet it was the right move to trade him away since they didn’t have a solid role for him in 2017.
This trade makes some sense for the Mariners because with Valencia they are getting a veteran player that can play a few positions and he smashes left-handed pitching. I don’t see Valencia getting a full-time starting job at a position for the Mariners. One reason is that his natural position is 3rd base and that position is completely taken by Kyle Seager. However, Valencia figures to be more of a platoon player primarily at 1st base, but he could fill in at left field or right field as well. Young 1st baseman Daniel Vogelbach will see a lot more time at 1st base for the Mariners, but is unknown how he will fare considering he barely has any MLB experience. Valencia will split time with Vogelbach and if Vogelbach struggles then the Mariners always know that they have the reliable Valencia as a backup option. Valencia is a tremendous hitter not just against left-handed pitching and he proved that last year as he had a .287 average with 17 home runs for Oakland. Seattle trading away a quality pitching prospect like Paul Blackburn isn’t ideal. However, the Mariners seem to have enough starting pitching that they can make up for the loss. Valencia provides the Mariners with positional versatility and a much needed right-handed bat in their lineup, so this trade is pretty good despite the talented prospect that they gave away.