Mariners trade Seth Smith to the Orioles for Yovani Gallardo

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We interrupt this slow news week with an actual trade. Of major leaguers, each of which play for teams with at least plausible cases for contention!

Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports that the Seattle Mariners have traded outfielder Seth Smith to the Baltimore Orioles for right handed starter Yovani Gallardo. There is also some cash going from Baltimore to Seattle in the deal.

Gallardo, who will turn 31 before the season, started 23 games for Baltimore in 2016, going 6-8 with a 5.42 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 85/61 in 118 innings. It was easily the worst season he’s had in the majors and came after a 2015-16 offseason in which Baltimore expressed concern about his shoulder. He missed some time in the middle of the season with tendinitis in that shoulder. He is entering the second year of a two-year contract on which he will be plaid $11 million this season. There is a club option for 2018 at $13 million with a $2 million buyout. When he first signed with the O’s it was for three years but Baltimore restructured it into a two-year deal after encountering some concerns in his physical so, yeah, a lot of red flags here about the health of that shoulder.

Smith, a lefty who is 34, put up a pretty typical Seth Smith season in 2016, hitting 249/.342/.415 with 16 homers and 63 RBI, with almost all of his damage and work coming against right handed pitchers. Smith is on a club option for 2017, exercised by the Mariners in November, which will pay him $7 million, after which he is a free agent.

For the Mariners, it’s some pitching depth and the hope for a bounceback year for Gallardo, who was excellent in 2015 with the Rangers. For the O’s, one half of a platoon that can serve as Mark Trumbo insurance, I suppose, as their free agent corner outfielder/DH is likely going to walk in free agency.

Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.