SAN DIEGO -- When Chris Denorfia signed with the San Diego Padres as a minor-leaguer on Dec. 17, 2009, the outfielder described his career as being "at a crossroads."

Denorfia was 29 at the time. Two seasons removed from elbow reconstruction surgery, Denorfia was released by the Oakland A's after spending the majority of the season at Triple-A, where he hit .271 with nine homers and 49 RBIs in 107 games.

"I knew I was at a crossroads," Denorfia said Thursday after being traded to the Seattle Mariners for outfielder Abraham Almonte and minor league right-handed pitcher Stephen Kohlscheen. "There was a question about being a 4-A player."

But Denorfia found his niche with the Padres.

"I hit it right here," Denorfia said Thursday of the opportunity the Padres presented. "I was at the right time with the right team. I took the chance and ran with it. And they liked me. All that allowed me to enjoy the game."

Which is why the 34-year-old Denorfia said he was leaving the Padres with mixed emotions.

"This place is my home," Denorfia said of the Padres. "This is where I got my shot. I'm excited about the opportunity with the Mariners. I understand the situation I was in."

Denorfia was hitting .242 this season with 10 doubles, three triples, one home run and 16 RBIs in 89 games. Over parts of five seasons with the Padres, the versatile Denorfia, who spent much of his time in San Diego platooning in right field with the left-handed-hitting Will Venable, hit .275 in 573 games.

For each of the past three seasons, Denorfia was one of the most sought after Padres at trading deadlines. He can play all three outfield positions. Last year, he hit .279 with career highs of 10 homers, 47 RBIs, 132 hits and 473 at-bats.

Denorfia was the third member of the Padres core to be traded this month, following right-handed closer Huston Street (to the Los Angeles Angels) and third baseman Chase Headley (to the New York Yankees) out the door.