SEPT. 13, 10:49pm: Valencia’s roster spot isn’t at risk now, but he is unlikely to return for 2017, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. She notes that it’s unclear whether he could be traded or non-tendered.
12:46pm: MLB.com’s Jane Lee hears differently, reporting that Valencia is likely to remain with the A’s through at least the end of the season. While Valencia and fellow veteran/University of Miami product Yonder Alonso will lose some at-bats to rookies Matt Olson and Renato Nunez, they’ll both still remain in the mix for at-bats down the stretch.
SEPT. 11: The A’s released designated hitter Billy Butler today, and another veteran could soon be following Butler out of Oakland. The Athletics are likely to release Danny Valencia before the end of the season, sources tell Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Valencia is eligible for arbitration for the third and final time this winter, though cutting him sooner rather than later would give both he and the team a clean break rather than waiting until the non-tender deadline.
It has been apparent for weeks that Valencia was unlikely to be with the A’s in 2017, as he was rumored as a possible DFA candidate in July since he wasn’t getting any trade deadline interest. Valencia’s playing time was also reportedly going to be cut, though he played in 27 games in August and seven of Oakland’s nine games thus far in September. It could simply be that the A’s didn’t feel comfortable benching Valencia when his 121 wRC+ led the team; after today’s action, Valencia is hitting .289/.346/.458 with 18 homers over 445 plate appearances in 2016.
Valencia’s strong production in three of the last four seasons and his multi-position versatility at third, first and both corner outfield spots (though defensive metrics indicate his glovework is only serviceable at first and right field) should get him attention on the free agent market this winter. If the A’s do release him before the season is over, it’s even possible that Valencia could catch on with a contending team looking for some late-season pop to boost them into the playoffs. Valencia wouldn’t himself be eligible for the postseason, of course, since he’d be joining a team past the September 1 deadline.
Valencia, who turns 32 later this month, has already played for six different teams during his seven years in the majors, and rumors of clubhouse problems have followed him throughout his career. Teammates such as Yonder Alonso, however, have also defended Valencia’s reputation. Slusser notes that Valencia “is known as a hard worker” within the Athletics clubhouse, while Butler’s work habits (particularly a lack of time in the weight room last season) were questioned by teammates. Valencia and Butler are linked, of course, by their infamous clubhouse altercation last month that led to both players being fined and Butler spending time on the DL recovering from a concussion.