The Oakland Athletics reportedly traded infielder Danny Valencia to the division-rival Seattle Mariners Saturday in exchange for pitching prospect Paul Blackburn.
Valencia is coming off back-to-back strong offensive years. He posted a .345 on-base percentage with 18 home runs in a 2015 season split between the A's and Toronto Blue Jays. He basically matched those numbers in Oakland this past season, finishing with a .346 OBP and 17 homers in 130 games.
The 32-year-old veteran, who will be joining his seventh team since reaching the majors in 2010, was also discussed as a potential movable asset before the trade deadline. He told Bob Nightengale of USA Today in June he preferred to stay but understood the business aspect of the game:
We all joke about it. They are notorious for making trades, so it's in the back of everybody's mind. If the team's not in the thick of things, they will make moves and blow up the team to some degree.
I know I don't want to go anywhere. I love Oakland. I love the Bay Area. I love my coaching staff, my teammates. We all love it here. But if we don't want to be moved, we've got to play better. They've shown that nobody's untouchable.
Ultimately, Oakland decided to cash in on what could be peak value for Valencia. Before last season, he had hit more than eight homers just once, and he's entering his final season of arbitration with the possibility of becoming a free agent after the 2017 campaign, per Spotrac.
The A's get a promising starter in return. Blackburn just arrived to the Seattle organization in July from the Chicago Cubs in a trade that also included Mike Montgomery, who ended up getting the final out in the World Series when the Cubs won their first championship in 108 years.
Meanwhile, Blackburn made 26 appearances (25 starts) at the Double-A level between the two minor league systems. He posted a 3.27 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in those games. While he's not a big strikeout pitcher, punching out only 99 batters in 143 innings, he has showcased solid stuff and good command.
MLB.com rated him as the No. 18 prospect in the Seattle organization before the deal.
Valencia, who has played all around the diamond throughout his career, figures to fight for the Mariners' starting right field job during spring training. Otherwise, he'll play the super-utility role and see the field almost on a daily basis one way or another.