Some fans of the Toronto Blue Jays might be upset with the team’s lack of activity on trade deadline day, but one of the moves they made in advance of that over hyped day of baseball brinkmanship is starting to pay dividends.
The Jays landed Valencia for spare parts in a deal with the Kansas City Royals last Monday. Minor league players Liam Hendriks and Erik Kratz were sent the other way in a trade meant to bolster the depth of Toronto’s infield and provide them a useful bat to turn against left-handed pitchers.
I don’t want to jinx things, but that’s exactly what they’ve gotten so far from Valencia. He’s made a quick and easy transition to first base, looking better suited for the busy corner in Edwin Encarnacion‘s absence than Juan Francisco. He can also play effectively at third base. This injection of defensive depth alone is enough to justify Valencia’ presence on the team, but the potential of his bat is what really makes the difference.
Across 10 plate appearances so far for the Jays, he’s made meaningful contact with the ball three times and hit for extra bases on two of those occasions. That gives him five total bases to start his young Jays career.
As I suggested, this is really nothing spectacular to note, but it does point to Valencia’s potential, and it shows how quickly he’s adapted to the demands and expectations of playing for his new club.
Ultimately, the Jays want to see Valencia’s season-to-date batting average of .343 against left-handed pitchers justify sitting Colby Rasmus, Adam Lind (when he returns to the lineup) or Juan Francisco whenever the opposition throws a southpaw out on the pitcher’s mound.
This suggests Valencia’s playing time will actually decrease when Encarnacion returns. He’ll likely be deployed in situational at bats. Despite the apparent narrowness of his true role on the team, however, Valencia is taking full advantage of his current opportunities and is giving the Jays a good sense of the bench depth they acquired from Kansas City.
What do you think about Valencia’s debut? Let us know in the comments section below.