The Blue Jays have claimed infielder Breyvic Valera off waivers from the Padres, per an announcement from both teams. In addition to Valera, the Jays announced that they’ve added right-hander Bryan Baker, outfielder Josh Palacios and infielder/outfielder Patrick Kivlehan to their 60-man player pool.
Valera, 28, was carried on the Blue Jays’ roster for most of the offseason but was lost to the Padres on a waiver claim back in February. He spent time with both the Jays and Yankees in 2019, though he appeared in just 17 games and took just 52 plate appearances. Overall, Valera has appeared in the Majors with five teams but played in just 54 games, hitting .223/.294/.298 in 138 trips to the plate.
Lack of MLB track record aside, the switch-hitting Valera is the owner of a .302/.374/.442 slash in 1550 plate appearances at the Triple-A level. Coupled with his defensive versatility –he’s played second base, third base and all three outfield positions — it’s easy to see why so many clubs have been intrigued by his skill set and taken brief looks at him. He’s out of minor league options, though, so the Jays will have to either carry him on the roster to open the season or else once again place him on waivers.
Turning to the three players added to the 60-man pool today, it’s feasible that any of the bunch could emerge as an MLB option. Kivlehan, 30, has logged 132 games in the Majors and tallied 242 plate appearances — albeit with a lackluster .208/.302/.401 slash in that time. Palacios, 25 later this month, spent the 2019 season in Double-A and turned in a .266/.371/.416 slash in a very pitcher-friendly setting. The 25-year-old Baker split last season between the Jays’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, pitching to a 3.17 ERA with 11.8 K/9 in 54 innings. Baker, however, also averaged six walks per nine frames and piled up 10 wild pitches, illustrating that control is an issue for him.
Toronto originally announced a player pool with 58 names, so the addition of these four will put them over the limit. However, as Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi tweets, a team can exceed 60 players if exceptions need to be made due to positive COVID-19 tests. It’s likely, then, that the Jays either have had additional positives in the organization that will remove some players from the 60-man pool or that additional transactions are coming today. Notably, the MLB.com transactions page does list Brandon Drury, Elvis Luciano, Hector Perez and Jonathan Davis as players to have been recently placed on the 10-day injured list with no reason given, though it’s not clear there’s any correlation to today’s moves.