The A's have announced that they have made their first major move of the offseason, and it's pretty predictable: we've finally offloaded Danny Valencia. In return, they get Paul Blackburn, the Mariners' #18 prospect according to MLB Pipeline.
#Athletics acquire RHP Paul Blackburn from the Seattle Mariners for IF/OF Danny Valencia— Oakland Athletics (@Athletics) November 12, 2016
On the surface, Danny Valencia has had a pretty good tenure in Oakland since he was claimed on waivers from the Blue Jays last August. His line of .287/.346/.446 made him among the best hitters on the team, and he hit in the middle of the lineup for most of the time here.
However, he did just about everything else badly – including being one of the worst defensive 3Bs in history, according to UZR. He didn't fair much better in the outfield or at 1B. The real problem, though, came in the clubhouse. In August, he punched Billy Butler in the face so hard that he missed a week with a concussion. He was rumored to be a non-tender or a DFA candidate, so getting some value back for him is a nice surprise.
22 year old RHP Paul Blackburn came over to the Mariners from the Cubs mid-season in the Mike Montgomery trade, and he has actually been doing pretty well. The Cubs second pick in the 2012 draft is just about MLB ready, and he's been killing the minors – he's maintained an ERA between 3.48 and 3.11 in every stop he's made as a professional baseball player. His upside is limited due to a lack of strikeouts, but he makes up for it with plus-plus control and a good sinker. Think Kendall Graveman.
Mostly 88-92 mph, though he’s touched higher in the past. It’s a little bit straight, but he fills the strike zone with it and locates well to his arm side. Mid-70s curveball is the best secondary, 11-5 movement with solid depth, a fringe pitch now that projects to average. The arm action allows for some changeup projection but it’s unlikely to miss bats. He projects as an up and down spot starter.
Blackburn should start in AAA next year, and be a source of much-needed rotation depth, with a chance for more.