TODAY, 6:08pm: Butler will also receive a fine, GM David Forst told reporters including MLB.com’s Jane Lee (via Twitter). The veteran DH is headed to the 7-day concussion DL as well.
5:14pm: Valencia will be fined for his role in the ruckus, Slusser tweets.
4:04pm: Slusser now reports the full details of the altercation, which you can find here. In essence, it seems, both players engaged in a verbal dispute after Butler made comments that may have interfered with an endorsement deal for Valencia. It escalated to the point of physical contact before Valencia struck his teammate with one or more punches.
While Butler initially reported being fine in the immediate aftermath of the dust-up, he began exhibiting nausea and vomiting thereafter. Neither player agreed to comment on the matter.
Notably, Slusser adds, Valencia could end up being punished later today. She suggests that he could be suspended or even given his release. The team’s handling of the matter will certainly be closely watched, as it could impact Valencia’s future in the organization and availability to other teams — though clearly this incident hasn’t increased his appeal.
YESTERDAY: 9:48pm: In an update to her original story, Slusser reports that the dispute between Butler and Valencia stemmed from Butler informing “an equipment representative that Valencia had not, in fact, been wearing the spikes that Valencia had told the representative that he was using.”
6:45pm: Billy Butler missed the Athletics’ last two games due to injuries suffered in a clubhouse altercation with teammate Danny Valencia on Friday night, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. A’s manager Bob Melvin said Butler was absent due to nausea and vomiting, and neither Melvin or Valencia was willing to comment about the alleged incident. As Slusser writes, “no one in the Oakland clubhouse would discuss the matter on the record, but no one denied that it occurred, either.”
The exact nature of the altercation isn’t known, though since Valencia played on Saturday, one could conclude that the A’s didn’t consider it major enough (at least not immediately) to warrant punishment. Valencia didn’t play on Sunday, though Slusser notes that could also have been a baseball decision given Valencia’s poor career numbers against White Sox starter Jose Quintana.
Clubhouse issues have plagued Valencia in the past, which could in part be why he wasn’t dealt at the trade deadline when the A’s unloaded several other veterans. Valencia wasn’t even expected to get regular playing time as Oakland focused on younger players, though he has gotten the bulk of starts in right field in August since he is still swinging a solid bat. The veteran has 15 homers and a .302/.351/.478 slash line through 387 plate appearances this season, and is currently on a streak of two hits in each of his last six games.
Valencia would seem to be a prime August trade candidate if he can clear waivers, though this latest incident isn’t likely to help his reputation around the game. The 31-year-old is eligible for arbitration this winter before hitting free agency after the 2017 season, and his good numbers will earn him a raise from his $3.15MM salary from 2016. It seems like the A’s will pursue a trade against this winter, and a non-tender could even potentially be in the cards (despite Valencia’s strong season) if the club wants to clear the roster for younger talent.