Outfielder Ken Griffey, Jr. was inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame at Safeco Field this evening, an event which preceded the team’s game against the Brewers. Griffey, often known as “Junior”, spent 13 of his 22 years in the Majors with the Mariners, hitting 417 of his 630 career home runs and helping usher in an era of prosperity, something not previously seen by the Mariners franchise dating back to 1977.
Griffey had a number of unforgettable moments in his career, from milestone home runs to great catches, but perhaps none more memorable than when he scored the winning run in the 11th inning of Game 5 of the 1995 American League Division Series against the Yankees. Though the Mariners were knocked out of the playoffs in the ALCS against the Indians, the Mariners would reach the post-season again in 1997, when they lost the ALDS in four games to the Orioles.
As Griffey approached free agency, the Mariners made a very tough decision and opted to trade him to the Reds in February 2000. The trade brought in their center fielder of the future in Mike Cameron, who helped the Mariners set a Major League record with 116 wins in 2001. Cameron, however, could never fill the rather large shoes vacated by Griffey.
Had injuries not interfered with his career, Griffey almost certainly would have joined the 700 home run club along with Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, and Babe Ruth. Nevertheless, he retired as one of the best players not only of his generation but of all-time.
Congratulations to Junior for his induction into the Mariners Hall of Fame.
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.
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.