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The Mariners and Rays completed a five-player trade


It’s been a busy offseason for the Mariners, who began restructuring their infield and outfield platoons last weekend after they acquired Danny Valencia from the Athletics. On Friday night, they confirmed a five-player deal with the Rays that sent infielder/outfielders Richie Shaffer and Taylor Motter to Seattle and first baseman Dalton Kelly and right-handers Dylan Thompson and Andrew Kittredge to Tampa Bay.

Neither Shaffer nor Motter have extensive major league experience, but Mariners’ GM Jerry Dipoto appeared grateful for the depth and flexibility the pair will bring to the 2017 roster. Over two seasons with the Rays, Shaffer primarily operated as a backup first and third baseman during the second half, batting a cumulative .213/.310/.410 in 142 PA that looked nothing like the 30-homer, .243/.338/.445 output he generated in two seasons and 778 PA with Triple-A Durham. Motter was another recent call-up for the Rays in 2016, and batted a dismal .188/.290/.300 in May and June before getting demoted to Triple-A for the remainder of the season. Despite his struggles on the major league stage, his experience at nearly every position (except for center field) will lend the Mariners more versatility heading into the 2017 season.

The Rays, meanwhile, will receive three minor league prospects from the Mariners in return. Right-hander Dylan Thompson heads the group as the Mariners’ fourth-round pick in the 2015 draft and No. 22 overall among the club’s 2016 prospect pool. Injuries kept him out of the minor league circuit in 2016, though he made a brief late season comeback in the Arizona Fall League.

Tampa Bay will also see 26-year-old righty Andrew Kittredge, who split his season between Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma in 2016, pitching to a 3.50 ERA and 10.5 K/9 rate in 72.0 innings with the two clubs. Rounding out the group is Dalton Kelly, a first baseman/right fielder who destroyed Midwest League pitching in 2016 with a .293/.384/.416 batting line in 564 PA for Single-A Clinton. Unlike Shaffer and Motter, none of the Rays’ newly-acquired prospects appear to be major league ready just yet, though they should give the club some extra padding in the farm system.

Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.

He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.

The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.

While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.

Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.

It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.

Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.


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