The Diamondbacks announced that they have claimed infielder Pat Valaika off waivers from the Orioles. Right-hander Jimmie Sherfy was outrighted to Triple-A in order to create room for Valaika on the 40-man roster.
This is the second waiver claim of the offseason for Valaika, as Baltimore grabbed him off the Rockies’ roster at the end of October. Valaika was then designated for assignment earlier this week, when the Orioles took Richard Urena from the Blue Jays on another waiver claim.
Valaika is headed back to the NL West after spending his entire seven-year professional career in the Colorado organization. A ninth-round pick for the Rox in 2013, Valaika appeared in 231 games for the team between 2016-19, hitting .214/.256/.400 over 433 plate appearances. Over a quarter of those PA were in a pinch-hitting role, though Valaika has also been a versatile bench piece, playing all four infield positions and a handful of games in left field.
This defensive flexibility will help Valaika battle Ildemaro Vargas, Domingo Leyba, Josh Rojas, and Andy Young for utility duties in Arizona, as the D’Backs continue to sort out their infield mix. With Ketel Marte increasingly likely to spend much of his time in center field, the Diamondbacks can go with Eduardo Escobar at second base and Jake Lamb at third, or move Escobar back to third to spell Lamb whenever a left-handed starter is on the mound. Or, Lamb could be relegated to bench duty himself if he can’t get on track following a pair of subpar seasons, leaving one of second or third base (whichever Escobar isn’t playing) open for a platoon situation.
Sherfy was designated for assignment last week when the D’Backs signed Hector Rondon. Sherfy showed some glimpses of promise over 27 innings in 2017-18, though his ERA ballooned to 5.89 over 18 1/3 frames last season. Still looking for a longer stint at the big league level, Sherfy can offer some solid numbers in the minors, with a 3.59 ERA, 11.9 K/9, and 3.07 K/BB rate over 303 career relief innings in Arizona’s farm system.