Griffey returning for another season in Seattle

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Ken Griffey Jr.’s return to Seattle was a success in so much as Mariners fans seemed to enjoy having him back and the team made major strides following a horrible 2008, but his actual performance was awful.
Griffey showed that he still has plenty of power and patience with 19 homers and 63 walks in 454 plate appearances, but he batted just .214/.324/.411 for a career-worst .735 OPS and was almost exclusively limited to designated hitter duties.
When he started dropping hints about wanting to return for a 22nd season at the age of 40 it seemed obvious that the Mariners wouldn’t–or at least shouldn’t–be interested in a second go-around. While the reunion was nice in a rebuilding season, the team seemingly has bigger plans for 2010 that should involve an upgrade at DH.
All of which is why this report from Larry Stone of the Seattle Times is surprising: Griffey and the Mariners have agreed to a one-year deal for 2010. Certainly getting sub par production from a part-time designated hitter is far from disastrous and won’t make or break the team in 2010, but it looks like nostalgia, loyalty, and perhaps some extra ticket sales will keep the Mariners from what would be a pretty easy upgrade.
Of course, that’s easier said than done with an incredibly popular future first-ballot Hall of Famer, but this isn’t exactly a Brett Favre and the Packers situation. Griffey has hit just .234/.340/.418 in 1,029 plate appearances spread over the past two seasons, is no longer capable of playing the outfield regularly, and the Mariners’ lineup needs all the help it can get after ranking dead last in scoring this year.

Athletics trade Billy Burns to the Royals for Brett Eibner

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 13: Billy Burns #1 of the Oakland Athletics waits on deck to bat during the fourth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 13, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.

Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.

Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.

Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.

Nationals acquire closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 20:  Mark Melancon #35 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies on May 20, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
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The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.

Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.

With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.

Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.

Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.

The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.