BOSTON – The Toronto Blue Jays made their entry into the trade deadline festivities Monday evening by adding infielder Danny Valencia, a small move with the potential to substantially help balance a left-leaning batting order.
The 29-year-old who has mashed southpaws at a .333/.269/.510 rate over 463 career at-bats was acquired from the Kansas City Royals for catcher Erik Kratz and starter Liam Hendriks, both of whom were at triple-A Buffalo.
Valencia, likely to be used as a third-base platoon-mate for Juan Francisco in Brett Lawrie’s absence, is expected to join the team Tuesday when a corresponding move will be made to get him on the roster.
His addition is an incremental gain, to be sure, but it addressed an immediate need with time remaining for more to happen before Thursday’s deadline.
“There’s always a chance but I’d say all 29 other GMs would say the same thing,” GM Alex Anthopoulos said on a conference call. “It’s been very active in terms of phone calls, emails, texts, everyone seems to be exchanging ideas. That’s expected. It seems that it’s the same it’s been the last few years around this time, things start to ramp up. I don’t know that I can really handicap what the potential are chances are for another deal. Trades are hard to make and I wouldn’t say we’re close to anything, but this deal came together fast, so anything can come together fast and we’re going to continue to talk to clubs.”
Valencia, batting .282/.328/.382 in 36 games this season, becomes more important with Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind progressing from their injuries slower than hoped. Encarnacion felt pain in his quad while swinging over the weekend leading to a temporary shutdown while Lind hit in a simulated game and his broken foot is fine while swinging but still troublesome while running.
Asked if there was a rough timeframe for when they might be ready, Anthopoulos replied: “We really don’t know. They’re definitely moving in the right direction.”
Lawrie is hitting off a tee and is soon to start batting practice, but in the interim the Blue Jays needed another right-handed hitting infielder to complement Steve Tolleson and prevent two of Juan Francisco, Munenori Kawasaki and Ryan Goins from having to play against lefties.
Valencia, who’s batting .354/.386/.492 in 65 at-bats versus lefties this year, fits the bill.
“The No. 1 factor for why we got Danny is his success versus left-handers and what he can do in the box,” said Anthopoulos.
“Ever since we lost Mark DeRosa, we really haven’t had anybody necessarily fill in at that spot. Steve Tolleson has done a nice job. A guy like Danny brings maybe a little bit more power but we definitely can use, because of all the left-handed bats we have on the team, someone else who can help us out.”
Kratz was pulled from the lineup in Buffalo shortly before game-time there. He’s split time between the majors and the minors this year, batting .198/.226/.346 in 34 games with the Blue Jays.
He’s expected to join the Royals on Tuesday to serve as Salvador Perez’s backup, and his departure now leaves prospect A.J. Jimenez as the club’s primary insurance behind the plate should something happen to Dioner Navarro or Josh Thole.
Hendriks made three starts this year for the Blue Jays, going 1-0 with a 6.08 ERA. He’s 8-1 with a 2.33 ERA in 18 games, 16 starts, for the Bisons but had slipped far enough down the depth chart that long reliever Todd Redmond is now likely the next pitcher in line for a start should opportunity present itself.
The Royals optioned Hendriks to triple-A Omaha.