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Mariners acquire 3B Danny Valencia from Athletics

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The Mariners officially acquired third baseman Danny Valencia from the Athletics on Saturday, per reports by MLB.com’s Jeff Passan and Greg Johns. The club will send minor league RHP Paul Blackburn to Oakland in a 1-to-1 trade.

Valencia had a banner year with the Athletics, batting .287/.346/.446 with 17 home runs in 517 PA and putting up 1.1 fWAR in his first full season in Oakland. The 32-year-old was primarily stationed at third base during the first half of the 2016 season, but a clubhouse altercation with Billy Butler in August and poor defensive instincts at the hot corner resulted in diminished playing time. He profiles well in right field and first base, where he might provide the Mariners with a decent platoon option in addition to his right-handed bat. It’s unlikely that he’ll see enough time at third base to present any kind of threat to Kyle Seager, Seattle’s long-established third baseman.

Blackburn was acquired by the Mariners in July as part of the deal that sent left-hander Mike Montgomery to the Cubs. He split his season between the Mariners’ and Cubs’ Double-A squads, posting a 3.27 ERA and striking out 99 batters over 25 starts and 143 innings. According to MLB.com’s top prospect list, the righty was ranked as Seattle’s 18th best overall prospect in 2016.

Mariners’ GM Jerry Dipoto issued a statement following confirmation of the deal:

Danny’s skill set is a good fit for our club,” Mariners Executive Vice President & General Manager Jerry Dipoto said. “He’s been a very productive offensive player, especially against left-handed pitching. In addition, his ability to handle all four corner positons [sic] presents Scott with a welcome level of flexibility when creating lineups.

Valencia will remain under club control through the 2017 season.

Bryce Harper played some third base in an intrasquad game

Bryce Harper third base
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Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper played some third base during Monday’s intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Harper had been pestering manager Joe Girardi for the opportunity and the skipper finally gave in.

Girardi told Harper, “No diving. And make sure your arm is loose.” Harper had the opportunity to field one ball, a grounder to his left and he made the play perfectly.

Why put Harper at third base? Girardi said, “I think it’s important the guys have fun. I saw him a week ago taking ground balls there and I was impressed. His hands worked well out front and he threw the ball across the field well. I told him, ‘You look good there.'”

Despite the solid showing, don’t expect Harper to show up at third base in a meaningful game anytime soon. That being said, the Phillies’ second and third base situations are still not cemented. Jean Segura will likely open the season at the hot corner with Scott Kingery at second, but things could change between now and Opening Day in 10 days.

Harper, 27, is coming off a solid first season with the Phillies. He hit .260/.372/.510 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 114 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases across 682 plate appearances. Per FanGraphs, Harper’s 4.6 Wins Above Replacement ranked 16th in the National League. For some people, those numbers weren’t nearly good enough, so the expectations remain high as Harper enters year two of his 13-year, $330 million contract.