Baltimore Orioles Sign Danny Valencia to Minor League Deal

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 08: Danny Valencia
OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 08: Danny Valencia /

The Baltimore Orioles continue to stockpile players who could contribute to their major league roster, and Danny Valencia is the latest name added.

A former member of the Baltimore Orioles is back in black and orange. No, not Luke Scott. Or Steve Clevenger. Many are glad those ships have sailed. Nor is it Nolan Reimold. Thankfully, it isn’t Ubaldo Jimenez either.

The former member of the Baltimore Orioles who the team signed to a minor league deal is 3B/1B/OF Danny Valencia.

Forgot Valencia played for the Baltimore Orioles? Well, in limited games, it was one of his best seasons as a major leaguer. Valencia played for the Orioles in 2013, hitting .304/.335/.553 with eight home runs, 14 doubles, 23 runs batted in, 20 runs scored in 170 at-bats.

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Valencia is very good at one thing. Hitting versus left-handers. In that season for the Orioles, he had 97 at-bats against lefties. He hit .371/.392/.639. Meanwhile, in 64 at-bats versus righties, he hit .203/.250/.422. Now, his home runs were evenly distributed, although interestingly, all 14 of his doubles came against left-handed pitching.

Oddly enough, Valencia also did much better at Camden Yards in 2013, hitting .394/.403/.676 at home, and .233/.286/.456 away. In the last three years, Valencia has been more of a regular presence, despite his stats that lean toward a platoon.

He played in 105 games with 345 at-bats for Toronto and Oakland in 2015, 130 games with 471 at-bats for Oakland in 2016 and 130 at-bats and 450 at-bats for Seattle in 2017.

He has had 500 or more plate appearances each of the last two seasons. In 2015 he hit a combined .290, in 2016 .287, but in 2017 struggled a bit to .256. Valencia isn’t going to be a defensive replacement. His dWAR for his career is -4.2, and in 2016 was -2.0.

But, the 2018 offseason has made things interesting, and Valencia received a minor league deal.

Valencia isn’t coming for his defense. His offensive WAR is 9.5, including 3.2 in 2016 for Oakland. The 33-year-old University of Miami graduate is an intriguing option for the Orioles, but I would caution anyone from getting overly optimistic. Valencia is a designated hitter option for the Orioles.

I can’t see him playing the field, unless there is an injury and he needs to fill in. With the emphasis on defense, the only place he may be adequate is at first base. But, the Orioles are set at first base. The only piece of intrigue here is if it means a trade could be in the works.

Here at The Baltimore Wire, we have discussed the fact that the Baltimore Orioles don’t really have good pinch hitters on their bench.

But, if Mark Trumbo was to be traded, which seems a bit far-fetched, the Orioles could use Valencia and Pedro Alvarez as designated hitters, being able to platoon them and use them as pinch hitters.

Now, why is trading Trumbo far-fetched? Well, he was not good last year. And his contract is pretty high for a guy who was not good. So, the Orioles would be getting nothing in return.

That doesn’t mean they won’t. There have been some rumors last season of Trumbo not fitting in with some parts of the clubhouse. In addition, removing his contract would continue to decrease players under contract after the 2018 season.

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While it seems a long shot for Valencia to make the team, I wouldn’t be surprised if he does due to his ability to mash versus left-handed pitching. The Orioles’ camp keeps expanding, and whether or not they are done is a major question.