Yesterday, the Orioles traded cash considerations for Danny Valencia of the Red Sox. Why are they called cash considerations? Why isn’t it just referred to as cash? The Orioles received Danny Valencia in exchange for cash. That should be the headline. Sorry, but that’s just never made any sense to me.
Valencia was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 19th round of the 2006 MLB Draft out of the University of Miami. He moved relatively slowly through the Twins system, progressing one level at a time. According to Baseball America, Valencia was the Twins #5 prospect after the 2008 season and the Twins #6 prospect after the 2009 season. In the minors, Valencia was primarily a gap hitter with enough power to hit one out every now and again. He hit 10-15 home runs per season during his time in the minors.
Midway through the 2010 season, the Twins had seen enough of the Nick Punto show at third base and decided to call up Danny. All he did to reward them was put up a .311/.351/.448 slash line and come in 3rd in the rookie of the year voting. However, it turns out that his .345 BABIP that season wasn’t sustainable. That’s too bad because his slash line led to him producing 2.6 fWAR in only 85 games that season.
2011 saw Valencia last through the entire season as the Twins third baseman, which was probably his best accomplishment. His BABIP dropped to .275 which caused his slash line to fall to .246/.294/.383. He did manage to hit 15 home runs but he was little more than a replacement player. The Twins decided to give him one last shot at the starting third base job going into 2012, but they must have had reservations about that because he only made it to May 10th before being replaced by Trevor Plouffe.
He spent most of the next few months in AAA before being traded to the Red Sox for Jeremias Pineda on August 5. He didn’t hit with the Red Sox either, ending the season with a .212 wOBA. The Red Sox designated Valencia for assignment on November 20. How is he on defense? Glad you asked. DRS and UZR both liked him in his 2010 rookie season with marks of 3 DRS and 5.9 UZR respectively. However, those marks didn’t last as in 2011 they fell to -13 and -6.1. Last year, he was slightly below average. He’s not good on defense but he’s not Mark Reynolds bad either.
Interestingly, there are also some whispers of Valencia not being the best character guy. Read this from his 2009 Baseball Prospectus Annual Player Comment: He can also be a bit cranky and unfocused at times, which doesn’t play well in the minors and doesn’t work at all in the majors unless you’re so good they can’t get rid of you—and no one is saying Valencia rises to that level.
That is not what you want to hear about a player your favorite team just acquired. But that’s ok, let’s see what Dan Duquette had to say about him to make us feel better.
“His serious strength is he’s very good against left-handed pitching,” said executive vice president Dan Duquette. “He’s a lifetime .316 hitter, with above-average on-base capabilities and average power. At his age, he should be able to regain the form that made him one of top vote-getters for Rookie of the Year a few years ago. He can play third and he’s played first a few times (in the minors), but his real value is he’s a very good hitter against left-handed pitching.”
“He’s young and a dependable fielder. He can help us with his bat, certainly against left-handed pitching, and he’s capable in the field, also.”
Ok, Dan. If you say he’s going to regain the form that he showed in 85 games back in 2010 based on an inflated BABIP, I’m with you. He is only 28 years old after all. By the way, his career on base percentage is .297. Continuing on through Duquette’s sell job, his career line against lefties is .316/.359/.472. Good point, but it’s only 300 at bats. You’d have to regress his line pretty heavily towards league average before you can begin to say that is his true talent against left handed pitching.
The Orioles didn’t give up anything but money in order to acquire Valencia, so it’s hard to come down on the move too much. I would expect him to be invited to spring training in order to compete for a bench job. It’s doubtful that he wins the job he’ll be shooting for and it’s much more likely he heads to AAA Norfolk to serve as organizational depth in case of an injury to Machado or Hardy. If Hardy were hurt, Machado could slide over to SS and Valencia could be called up to play third. That’s really what this move comes down to, organizational depth. Duquette felt that Valencia would improve the depth at the bottom of the 40 man roster and that’s what this move does.