As is often the case, the baseball world has finally come around to seeing what one person on the internet has been saying all along. Sometimes, that one person is a brilliant one who was just waiting to be discovered (think: Nate Silver). Other times, that person is like a broken clock that you just so happened to look toward at just the right moment (think: Peter Schiff, who called the financial crisis but who otherwise has no apparent ability to predict the economy).
In this case, it doesn’t matter, because that visionary and/or broken clock is me, and I have a blog, so I get to talk about it.
The subject of my obsession? That former Blue Jay and now Oakland Athletics 3B Danny Valencia. More specifically, it is that Danny Valencia is pretty good at baseball, and nobody was noticing.
Well, now, everyone has taken notice. Valencia is clobbering the ball to the tune of a .330/.375/.546 line after hitting .290/.345/.519 last year. He’s turning 32 in September, and has one more year of “team control,” so he occupies a somewhat unusual spot in baseball’s economy. He also occupies a somewhat unusual spot in this year’s trade market, and has been connected to the New York Mets for the last few weeks.
Fangraphs posted an article yesterday entitled Danny Valencia, Future Met and I felt that today was the proper time for me to get this off my chest.
On May 26, 2015, Valencia was on the Toronto Blue Jays, buried on the depth chart at DH behind MVP Josh Donaldson and 3B behind All-Star Edwin Encarnacion. He was also buried on the depth chart at 1B, but by veteran also-ran Justin Smoak. Smoak was worth a total of -0.3 WAR in his career entering last year over about 550 games. Nonetheless, the Blue Jays stuck with Smoak.
Smoak ended the year hitting .226/.299/.470 and posting 0.6 WAR, which is actually a huge improvement for him. He currently remains the Blue Jays primary first baseman. As I mentioned above, Valencia ended up hitting .290/.345/.519 and posting 2.2 WAR in only 378 plate appearances.
Through June, the Blue Jays continued to play Smoak over Valencia.
Through July, it was no longer a question of probabilities — it was facially ridiculous for the Blue Jays to continue to be unable to find a spot for Danny Valencia somewhere.
That Valencia was buried was *especially* ridiculous given the fact that the Blue Jays had the #1 offense in Major League Baseball, but had the 21st ranked pitching staff through the All Star Break.
In fact, in mid-June I could no longer express my feelings through tweets alone and wrote an entire article about how the Mets should trade Jon Niese and perhaps get a player like Valencia in return. Article here:
One potential trade partner might be the Toronto Blue Jays who, at 35-32, are pushing hard in the American League East. Their rotation currently features an ineffective R.A. Dickey and has a vacancy due to Aaron Sanchez’s injury … Coming back to the Mets could be a veteran like Danny Valencia … who is in his first year of arbitration.
It was widely read, but I guess it didn’t get to Sandy Alderson.
July update, right before he was placed on waivers (discussed below).
August Valencia update. Even if he wasn’t as great as he was showing in 2015, his track record extended back through 2014 as well.
I expressed regret for the Blue Jays, who got nothing in exchange for Valencia and were failed by their pitching in the postseason.
During the offseason, I hoped that the Mets would make a play for Valencia before his price continued to rise. But alas, 2016 began and he raked again.
I even snuck in references on MetsBlog. I’d like to think that I had something to do with the public groundswell of support we’ve seen recently.
The worst part about the Danny Valencia trade talk right now is that the Mets could have had him for free last season when the Toronto Blue Jays put him on waivers in late July.
Is Valencia the Mets savior right now? No. Is Valencia likely to hit .330 the rest of the way? No. But the Mets should have been all about acquiring a viable major league corner infielder last season and this past offseason to prepare for the eventuality that David Wright might become injured again.
Valencia is making only $3.15 million this year, and will likely make somewhere in the neighborhood of $6-7 million next year if he keeps this up. He’s a shorter, cheaper commitment than Yulieski Gourriel and he carries with him none of the baggage of Jose Reyes, which is why all the major outlets now see Valencia as the best fit for the Mets. The only question now is how much it will cost and whether the Mets will be willing to pay.