Mariners acquire Valencia from A's

Minor League right-hander Blackburn heading to Oakland

Mariners acquire Valencia from A's

SEATTLE -- Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto added a potent right-handed hitter who can team with first baseman Daniel Vogelbach or play a corner-outfield spot, acquiring Danny Valencia from the A's on Saturday for Minor League pitcher Paul Blackburn.

"I'm excited about it," Valencia said. "It seems like Oakland is going through a rebuild. Seattle is on the verge of the playoffs, so that's what really caught my attention, to be able to play in the postseason. That's the most important goal, and I'm looking forward to taking part in that."

Valencia, 32, posted a .287/.346/.446 line with 17 home runs and 51 RBIs in 471 at-bats for Oakland last year, including .318/.389/.535 in 129 at-bats against left-handers, which is an area in which the Mariners struggled with their lefty-leaning lineup.

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Valencia has been primarily a third baseman in his seven seasons in the Majors, but he has also played first base and outfield. He started 67 games for the A's last season at third base, as well as 36 in right field, 15 at first base and one in left field.

With Kyle Seager holding down third base, Valencia's role will be moving around to other positions again next season, which is something he already discussed with Dipoto and manager Scott Servais in a phone conversation Saturday.

Valencia provides versatility

Dipoto envisions primarily a "time share" at first with Vogelbach, with some duty in the outfield as well as the added flexibility of being able to give Seager a day off or chance to fill in at designated hitter on occasion.

"He's a flexible piece we see as an everyday or near-everyday player," Dipoto said.

Dipoto said Valencia's acquisition means there is "very little likelihood" of right-handed-hitting first baseman Dae-Ho Lee re-signing with the club. Lee and Adam Lind worked that position as a platoon tandem last year, but both are now free agents.

Valencia said he played first base extensively one season at the University of Miami when teammate Ryan Braun handled the hot corner. He noted he also works out regularly with first baseman Yonder Alonso and Eric Hosmer in the offseason and would pick their brains.

Valencia has been with six teams in his past seven seasons, starting with three years in Minnesota, and then moving to the Red Sox, Orioles, Royals, Blue Jays and A's.

"It's one of those things where everyone wants to play for one team their whole career, but the longer you play, the more teams you're going to play for," he said. "I'm grateful for the memories and learning experiences I've had at all the different places. Hopefully Seattle is a place I can stay awhile. I idolized Ken Griffey Jr. and always envisioned myself wearing a Mariners jersey."

Valencia is entering his final year of arbitration eligibility and will be eligible for free agency after next season. He earned $3.15 million from the A's last year, and he is projected for about a $5.3 million contract in 2017 by MLBTradeRumors.com.

The Mariners want to give Vogelbach, their seventh-best prospect, an opportunity at first base, but the 23-year-old has only 13 Major League at-bats, all coming after his promotion in September.

Valencia has been outstanding throughout his career against left-handed pitchers, with a line of .321/.373/.500 compared with .246/.288/.394 against righties.

Blackburn, who was ranked as the Mariners' 18th-best prospect, was acquired by Seattle in July from the Cubs as part of the deal that brought Vogelbach to the Mariners, in exchange for pitchers Mike Montgomery and Jordan Pries.

The 22-year-old right-hander went 9-5 with a 3.27 ERA in 26 games (25 starts) while splitting last season between Double-A Tennessee and Jackson in the Cubs and Mariners organizations. He was named to the Southern League Northern Division All-Star team.

The trade is the second engineered by Dipoto already this offseason. Seattle acquired veteran catcher Carlos Ruiz from the Dodgers for left-hander Vidal Nuno on Monday. The Mariners' 40-man roster now stands at 37.

"I can't say this is the last roster move we'll make, but Carlos as backup catcher and Danny as a near-everyday player, it gives us some balance against left-handed pitching that we were lacking last year," Dipoto said.

Fantasy impact of Valencia trade

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
Formerly a specialist against southpaws, Valencia has produced a solid .795 OPS against right-handers across the past two seasons. At the very least, the 32-year-old will help AL-only teams next year by hitting for power and average from the short side of a platoon. But he could contribute in mixed leagues by earning regular work vs. righties on a Seattle squad that currently lacks proven options at first base and left field.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.