The Mets reached out to the Athletics recently to inquire about third baseman Danny Valencia, according to a report from Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. New York went on to acquire Kelly Johnson from the Braves, but as Davidoff notes, that move doesn’t necessarily rule out a continued pursuit of Valencia.
Johnson was added both to fill an immediate need and to provide a utility option the rest of the way. Valencia, though, would be a more significant target. It’s certainly arguable that he makes even more sense for New York now than he did a few weeks back, given that David Wright has elected to undergo neck surgery due to the lack of progress on his rest-and-rehab plan.
Valencia would represent more of a direct replacement for Wright, allowing Wilmer Flores to spend more time elsewhere in the infield and pushing Johnson into a fairly limited utility role. Though he isn’t regarded as a very good fielder, Valencia has seen the field at multiple other positions, with time at the corner outfield, first base, and even second base all on his resume.
That positional flexibility ought to increase Valencia’s appeal as a trade target, especially for a New York team that faces long-term questions with Wright and will lose second baseman Neil Walker to free agency after the season.
Valencia is greatly outperforming the $3.15MM deal he signed to avoid arbitration before the 2016 campaign. He is slashing .327/.370/.550 with ten home runs over 184 plate appearances on the year, adding to the already-impressive results from a season ago. In fact, in over a thousand trips to the plate since the start of 2013, Valencia has mashed to the tune of a .290/.334/.489 line.
If he can keep up anything approaching that level of production, Valencia would make for quite a nice replacement for Wright (or upgrade for any other team that might pursue him). Of course, Oakland might prefer not to trade him for the same reason, as he’ll be controllable one more time via arbitration after the season. The A’s may well hang a fairly substantial asking price on the one-time journeyman, who has risen to the number four spot on MLBTR’s most recent ranking of top trade candidates.