The Jays have made exactly the kind of trade that you’d have expected the Jays to make — at least a couple weeks ago you would have — flipping a pair of Buffalo Bisons, catcher Erik Kratz and starter Liam Hendriks, to the Kansas City Royals for Danny Valencia.

Valencia is a third baseman, though not a particularly great one according to the metrics, but passable enough to get his bat into the lineup, which will certainly help the Jays, given that he’s a right-handed bat who hits lefties quite well.

In a very small sample (68 plate appearances) he has slashed .354/.386/.492 against left-handed pitching this season. He obviously doesn’t walk a tonne against them, and he’s benefitting from a pretty high BABIP, but those are still some terrific numbers, as are the ones he’s put up if you increase the sample to previous years, when he played for the Twins, Red Sox, and Orioles. Over his last 228 plate appearances against left-handers, spanning 2012 to 2014, he’s maintained that high BABIP (.358), and those sparkling numbers, posting a 138 wRC+, and a .330/.346/.530 slash line, with eight homers and 17 doubles.

Increase the sample to include his entire big league career against lefties and it’s more of the same.

In other words, this is a very nice piece the Jays have just acquired themselves, given that it cost them almost nothing. Kratz was useful enough, but clearly expendable as the third catcher on the depth chart. And Hendriks may have started the Triple-A All-Star Game, with Sean Nolin returning to health, Todd Redmond still available in the bullpen, and Brandon Morrow possibly making an eventual comeback, he could justifiably be considered the eighth or ninth starter on the depth chart, with little hope of moving up the pecking order next year, given that Aaron Sanchez and Dan Norris are expected to be knocking on the door by then.

Speaking of next year, Valencia, who makes just $532.5K this year, he’ll still be under team control then. And the year after. And the year after that, as well. Yes, this winter will be his first crack at arbitration, meaning that the Jays hold his rights for three years after this one — though, according to an MLBTR piece from the spring, he is out of options, so who knows if he ever actually manages to stick around that long.

He didn’t have much of a future in Kansas City, with former top pick Christian Colon getting moved up to add some depth to the Royals’ infield, and Mike Moustakas getting a vote of confidence, according to Andy Martino of the Kansas City Star. As for what the future holds here, Valencia fits very well with the current roster and its many platoon situations — and Alex Anthopoulos, via a tweet from Mike Wilner, suggests that he’s a guy that they’ve looked at for a while now.

The Jays will hold off on announcing a corresponding move until Valencia reports, and one wonders what it might be. With Esmil Rogers being D’d FA over the weekend to make room for Reimold, the club is down to seven relievers, and you’re not going to see them go down to six. Anthony Gose has been seeing a lot of time lately, and has been doing well, but he has options and is somewhat redundant with four other outfielders now on the roster — though Colby Rasmus would be the only one left over who is capable of playing centre for an extended stretch. If a Gose demotion ends up being the move, on the 3B/2B/1B/DH front the club has a spot for all of their current pieces, with Kawasaki, Goins, Francisco, and Johnson going against right-handers, with Valencia, Tolleson, and Reimold going against lefties, with a giant, Edwin Encarnacion-sized hole in that particular configuration (though Johnson doesn’t have a particularly large platoon split). However, if Gose stays, Bautista can move to first against right-handers — as he’s been doing from time to time — until Edwin is back, with Kawasaki, Goins, and Francisco handling 3B/2B/DH, with Johnson being made the redundant part. Unless! You could also use Johnson at DH and Francisco at third, with one of Goins or Kawasaki being demoted.

Goins and Gose both have options, while none of the others do, so I could see it coming down to that. However, the Jays certainly seem to like the defence they both bring and have been playing them a lot lately to good effect. I could see them erring on the side of keeping whatever depth they can. Would be nice to be able to keep a Kawasaki around for the balance of the season, and Dan Johnson, too, one supposes, but with Edwin, Lind, and Lawrie on the mend, some tough decisions are going to have to be made sooner or later — and for someone maybe tomorrow, when Valencia likely arrives, will be “sooner.”

We shall see. What we already know, though, is that this team is better now than it was yesterday, and that it cost them pretty close to nothing.

I can live with that. I can so fucking live with that.

Comments (80)

  1. typical AA move, hopefully this won’t be the only trade for AA this week.

  2. Adding a guy with a career wRC+ of 140 vs LHP that can play the infield is exactly what this club needed, and to pick him up for 2 guys who couldn’t even make the 25 man depth chart when the team is struggling for right handed power (Kratz) or BP depth (Hendriks) is nice work by AA.

  3. I like it.
    Go JAys!

  4. Love it. Hopefully he’s at least playable on defense.

  5. Valencia is a part time player with a useful skill set.
    He makes the Jays a better team as Stoets says.

    The depressing news today came from Bob Elliott on PTS.
    Elliot says that the Jays are telling other teams
    that they cannot take on any money.

    • Said that a week ago. Who knows whether it’s true. Feels like it, but we’ll see. Plus, it’s not like they have to take on money to have a successful run this year, it’d just help.

      • If by “any money” they mean
        they can’t take on $15-20M that is one thing.

        But if they mean they can’t take on $5m or $3m
        or that money out has to equal money in,
        that really ties AA’s hands.

      • Stoeten,tis true.
        Backed up in an ESPN article in the last couple of days.

      • Fox Sports article talking about Mariners’ GM (Morales trade), “The trade did squelch the notion that the Mariners were operating without payroll flexibility – a notion Zduriencik himself perpetuated, rival executives say.”

        Brightened my day.

    • @STW

      The Jays could use some extra help, but it looks to me like the new mgmt. won’t authorize payroll increase.

    • I still wonder if AA said that to one GM who was trying to dump a ridiculous contract on the Jays. When asked about it later, AA couldn’t just say ” I was lying”.

      • Fitz – I think this is likely the answer. It’s about posturing to get the best deal, and an occasional tool to beg out of pointless conversations in which the Dodgers (say) suggest the Jays to pick up all of Matt Kemp’s salary.

  6. If I had to guess I think Goins goes down when Valencia reports – Juan/Valencia platoon at 3B, Tolleson/Mune platoon at 2B. Johnson’s next to go when one of Lawrie/E5/Lind get healthy, but for the other two I’m not quite sure

  7. I like the move, but I would have liked it more if it could have been made earlier

  8. Kratz isn’t exactly expendable considering if Navarro goes down catching is by far the biggest hole on the team. Makes this a relatively risky move considering the reward and assuming a solid defensive catcher isn’t readily available in august or considering the case that Navarro goes down in sept or even playoffs.

    AA has a history of not prioritized catching defence which is exactly what kratz brings and his only move made to improve catching defence other than Mathis. By far the most under rated aspect of baseball by most is catching defence. Can’t imagine gibbons thought this was a good idea.

    Navarro isn’t exactly mr durable. Doesn’t seem like a great idea to rely on Jiminez. nor thole to lead a pitching staff during a pennant race. Not at all sold on Tholes game calling ability

    • AA has a history of not appreciating risk in so far as injuries are concerned.
      Given the position he finds himself in right now, it’s understandable.
      I just hope Kawasaki doesn’t draw the short straw.

    • Can’t imagine why they wouldn’t be able to find a guy if need be.

      I think you’re overrating the underratedness of catching defence.

      And no need to bring the messageboard witch hunt stuff here. AA also traded for Kratz, for Mathis, just drafted Pentecost, traded for d’Arnaud, etc. etc. It’s far more complicated than saying that he doesn’t value catcher defence.

      You’re probably right about Gibbers, though. And also that it’s more than nothing.

  9. Is this a sign Lawrie is out for awhile?

  10. Why are the blue jays scouting the Burnett if there telling teams they can’t take on any salary? Don’t have many players to dump salary either.

    • If the jays ante up in prospects could trade Romero and or izturis for salary relief or the other team simply send cash like padres would have with Headley.

      Seems pretty clear that jays aren’t going to take on salary

      • No, it does not. I wouldn’t bet on them taking any on, but “seems clear”? Hardly.

        • I’m sure I am overrating that. In sept there aren’t many options to acquire players.

          Of course it’s a great move for the current roster. Like steibsslider says it leaves a big injury risk and lack of depth.

          Jiminez and Thole is a pretty weak catching situation for a pennant race IMO

          • Why would you play for a theoretical risk of a catcher getting injured when you can get a player who improves the roster NOW.

          • @Nick, they just traded away a good defensive catcher to the Royals. I don’t get your logic

  11. Nice little piece of business by AA.

    Another righty masher who can play the infield was pretty much the only thing this team was lacking until Lawrie comes back.

    Bullpens are unpredictable and injuries could still plague the team.

    But there isn’t a clear hole on the roster any more and AA can approach the deadline waiting for an opportunity to present itself.

  12. Suck it, Farrell!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Its a nice little deal but doesnt change much in the grand scheme of things. Are they a little bit better vs lefties? Sure

    • Oh look, it’s this guy saying something ridiculous again.

      • How is it ridiculous? Me saying that they are going to the world series because of valencia is ridiculous. All i said is they are a little better. Yeah, that is sooooo fucking ridiculous.

      • Isn’t the point of making trades to get better?
        But you can’t say he was successful in this trade though?
        Did you plan on having Kratz and Hendricks play a big role in this playoff run?

        Do people bitch just to bitch?

    • Wouldn’t you rather the Jays have the ability to approach the deadline from a position of strength?

      Plus who knows for how long Lawrie will be out.

      At least Gibby has some options now.

      Aside from Reimold’s durability concerns and the lack of a legit backup CF who can hit righties, this is a pretty complete team.

      It’s still going to require some luck, though, to win the division.

  14. Nice trade. Have to say, though, Kratz is one impressive human being from what I’ve read about him, and he won more than his share of games for us. Adios amigo!

    • I hope you are being sarcastic. He had maybe 1 big hit this year and was hitting a whoppin’ .198. Lower than his impressive .216 career BA. Never got the love affair with this guy, he is an OK back up at BEST

  15. Hope the jays save some runs for the next two. Unlike the Sox last week. I’ll be at the next 2 games. Hopefully EE or Lind is back….any news on that?

    • Have not heard anything since Sat.
      EE being shut down for a few days
      may mean he’ll need a rehab assignment
      even if all goes well when he resumes baseball activities.
      Optimistic estimate of about 2 more weeks maybe?

    • Heard Lind feels no pain hitting, but when he runs still has pain. He played in a simulated game in Florida, so still a bit for him till he is pain free.

  16. I would have traded Liam Hendriks for team equipment and some gift cards to the Keg. Kratz I liked but he was expendable. This is a great trade for the Jays.

    • Gift cards for the Keg are awesome l, I’d trade more than just Hendricks for a stack of those

  17. Francisco has a career OPS+ of 17 against LHP. Fuckin 17!!!

    Danny had a 146.

    Now 3B has an OPS+ at 113/146 verses RHP/LHP.

    That’s turning a weakness into a strength. That’s a good GM.

  18. So, it’s pretty much guaranteed at this point that if Morrow comes back, he goes to the bullpen?

  19. JPA singles in 2 against the Yankees.

    He’s now contributed more to the Jays this season than he did the last three combined.

  20. On to other sick and twisted notes from around the league:

    JP Arincibia has played 30 games this year with a 153 average and 4 swats past the outfield dirt. But, true to his adage of being a producer, he would have been on pace for 23 homeruns.

  21. Very happy with this trade. It’s good to see AA address what was arguably the biggest need this offseason.

    Lawrie moving to 2B full-time when he returns?

    Some tough decisions to make for sure, but having to decide between possible productive pieces is a much better problem to have then, “who will hurt the team the least?”

  22. After I got over the fact that the trade was not bringing us Michael Moustakas I came to like this move very much. A nice low-cost specialized bat who will help if his performance is consistent with 2013 and 2014 thus far. The controllability is a nice plus if it works out. This is a move I would expect from the Rays or A’s – glad to see it being made by Alex. Now do 4 yrs 60mm for Melky.

    • I mentioned this in the other thread, but you have to like that AA turned one guy who wouldn’t make our 25-man out of ST (Lincoln) into two guys on it right now (Rasmussen and Valencia). I’m happy with that.

  23. I don’t get this deal. This is Steve Tolleson II. So what? What do you do with Steve T the First? He’d be the one I’d cut if you really think Danny V is your guy. Otherwise, it’s all pretty moot.

    • Comes on man . Tolleson plays 2b and can play OF and SS in a pinch .

      They aren’t even close to redundant players

    • That’s the rub, but this team needed another rhb IF until Lawrie comes back. If you think they can manage with no backup SS and no backup CF for a few weeks (hint: the probably could), then you can have Tolleson, Valencia, Reimold until September when Gose/Goins/Kawasaki return.

      Tolleson/Rasmus platoon is deadly to go along with Lind/Reimold and JuanFran/Valencia. That’s with Lawrie back, of course.

  24. Don’t see any downside to this deal. You give up Hendricks who seems like just a younger RH version of Brad Mills and Kratz who is decent but 3rd on the depth chart for catchers to get a RH infielder who can hit lefties. With Reimold back Gibby can actually put a decent lineup out there with a LHP on the mound.

    My guess is that AA adds a bullpen arm before the deadline and thats about it. But who knows?

  25. I like this move. I like the idea of our healthy infield being Valencia, Reyes, Lawrie, EE.

    And also there’s no downside. This is a great move.

    I mean really, This team is pretty amazing if we can get healthy.

    • Valencia should never have a plate appearance vs a righty

      Francisco should never have one vs a lefty

      If you add up the numbers of Francisco vs righties and Valencia vs lefties … You have an Allstar

  26. Problem is while Francisco/Valencia will give you above average offence, were getting well below defence, from both… and heading into a playoff series (if we make it that far) I’m not sure you can trust either defensively. LONG term however, Valencia should be a nice piece, but more so as Linds DH platoon partner, rather then a 3B. like wow Lind bats like .333 against righties and now Valencia .333 vs lefties, just a deadly combo… That’s great protection for EE when he comes back… Long term I see Lawrie sticking at 3rd, I would say move him to second but Reyes to 2nd makes more sense to me so yes we need a SS once again. I’m sorry, but I’ve lost all faith in Reyes at this position. Lawrie should just stay at third, it’s a position that currently has few elite offensive players, and Lawrie could win a gold glove their so it’s not like he’s not providing good value at that position… While his bat may be underwhelming at times, he does have some potential. A .260 20 HR 3rd basemen that wins gold gloves is valuable. Just solidify the infield defensively it’s so important. But for now Valencia/fransisco will do

  27. Nothing wrong with the deal, but it’s a little marginal. Be nice to see them add two or three more little pieces if there’s no big one.

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