In the wake of David Wright undergoing a potentially season-ending neck surgery earlier this week, the New York Mets have reportedly expressed interest in third baseman Danny Valencia, according to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.
The interest in Valencia occurred right before the team acquired veteran utility man Kelly Johnson from the Atlanta Braves. However, Davidoff notes that the acquisition of Johnson does not preclude New York from acquiring Valencia from the Oakland Athletics.
Valencia, 31, is having an All-Star type of season this year after signing a one-year, $3.15 million to return to Oakland in the offseason. Through 48 games, Valencia is batting 0.331/0.375/0.551 with 10 home runs and 27 runs batted in. In fact, as MLB Trade Rumors noted, dating back to 2013 — over the course of about 1,000 plate appearances — Valencia has been a 0.290/0.334/0.489 hitter.
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 16, 2016
While the offense has been there, Valencia has generally been rated a poor defender during his career. According to FanGraphs, Valencia’s Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR/150) is -21.7 and his Defensive Runs Saved sits at -11. However, Valencia does provide some positional flexibility as he has experience in the outfield, first base, and some second base.
Acquiring Valencia would give the Mets an assortment of options in regards to their lineup. Wilmer Flores could be moved off third base and play all around the infield in a super utility role. Johnson’s role would be diminished to a part-time utility role as Valencia and Flores would likely see the bulk of playing time.
Second baseman Neil Walker has dealt with a back issue the last week but returned to the lineup a few days ago. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera has been the Mets’ ironman so having additional infield depth would help.
After injuries cut his 2015 season short, Valencia is in the midst of a career year and will likely draw heavy interest — not just from the Mets. While his future may be uncertain, Valencia loves the atmosphere within the Athletics’ organization.
“I love it here,” Valencia told USA Today Sports about playing for the Athletics. “They just accept you for who you are. They don’t get on you what you wear, how your hair is, your personality. You can have fun, enjoy yourself, and be you.
While Valencia is enjoying his time in California, the A’s are currently one of the worst teams in the American League. Entering play on Sunday, the team is in last place in the AL West with a 28-40 record; 15.5 games back of the Texas Rangers for first place.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) June 17, 2016
Athletics ownership has been complimentary of Valencia’s performance, but the team has shown in the past nobody is exempt from trades. Two seasons ago, the A’s dealt slugging third base Josh Donaldson to the Toronto Blue Jays. Last year, he was the NL MVP. So, Valencia, a career role player having a career year will be no exception.
There is the reason for the A’s to keep Valencia, as he will be arbitration-eligible one more time following this season. So, if he continues this torrid stretch, and the team feels it can compete for the postseason next year, keeping a productive infielder on a team-friendly deal makes sense.
Over his career, Valencia has played for six teams; the Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Blue Jays, and Athletics. If he’s dealt again, it will not be a new experience for the Miami, Florida, native.
“I’ve been traded so many times,” Valencia said, “I’m used to it. But I’d love to stay here.”
[Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images]