From the A’s for minor league pitcher Paul Blackburn (acquired in the Mike Montgomery deal from the Cubs).
I’m not gonna lie to you, I irrationally love this move. For starters, to get the money part out of the way, it looks like he’ll make a little over $5 million in his 3rd year of arbitration. So, in essence, we’re talking about an inexpensive, potentially short-term deal on a guy who very well may end up getting a nice chunk of change after 2017. I’m not totally worried about that, because I think I’d rather have the flexibility (in case he stinks) with the potential to extend him if he continues to do well.
So, what is a Danny Valencia? Well, he’s a right-handed bat who can play defensively at third base, left field, right field, and first base. It sounds like, in his time here, he’ll probably play primarily at first base, with some outfield mixed in. If all goes according to plan, he would likely be a platoon partner with Dan Vogelbach (who we also acquired in the Mike Montgomery trade, in an odd quirk), but I have to imagine he’d get more starts than a Dae-ho Lee.
Speaking of which, this apparently spells doom for Lee returning to the Mariners. I’m not sure it totally made sense to bring him back anyway, as he’s looking for a more regular guaranteed role as a starting first baseman, but I sure did enjoy watching the big guy play the game of baseball. I wish him luck wherever he goes, and hope wherever that is isn’t an American League West city.
Valencia has never been a full-time starter in his Major League career, dating back to 2010, but he’s really broken out in the last two years, with a .288/.346/.822 line across 235 games (about 118 per season), averaging 18 homers, 22 doubles, and decent strikeout & walk rates. This is a very useful player who slots anywhere from 2-6 in the lineup (for the M’s, I’d say either 2 or 6), who also gives you a lot of options defensively and – most importantly – in roster construction. This is baseball, so you only get 4 bench spots, and one of those goes to the backup catcher. Last year, one of our big problems was having too many platoons. While Valencia is probably a platoon guy, he can also fill in at a bunch of spots, if we have to deal with injuries (which always crop up).
We’re still pretty far from being done, but I can’t complain about the moves so far. Backup/maybe co-starting catcher: check. First base/right-handed corner outfield power bat: check. All for the low-low price of Vidal Nuno and a minor league nobody. I can’t wait for what comes next!