The Oakland A's made yet another roster move today, though this one was expected. They activated Danny Valencia, the IF/OF claimed off waivers from the Blue Jays on Monday, and to make room on the 25-man roster they optioned 1B/3B Max Muncy to Triple-A Nashville.
Valencia is a right-handed hitter whose primary positions are third base and left field. The 30-year-old is batting .296/.331/.506 with seven homers this year in 58 games, but he specializes in crushing left-handed pitching, with a career .864 OPS against southpaws in 634 plate appearances. His overall OPS+ of 129 this season is higher than anyone on the A's active roster (Stephen Vogt is next-highest at 120). Over the last three years, his OPS is .775 in 627 plate appearances (113 OPS+).
With a dynamic right-handed bat, Valencia is an obvious fit on the A's roster. The team still needs help against left-handed pitching, and Valencia can slot in either in left field or as a backup to Brett Lawrie at third base. It's also possible that, with Ben Zobrist gone, Lawrie may get some reps at second base so that Eric Sogard doesn't have to start every day, and Valencia can cover third while Lawrie is doing that. Perhaps one arrangement we could see against lefties includes Lawrie at second, Valencia at third, Coco in left, and Sogard on the bench (as per his optimal platoon role).
Meanwhile, Muncy was no longer needed with Valencia on board and can return to Triple-A to get regular at-bats. He was called up last week to fill in the roster during the zaniness of the trade deadline, and he played on Saturday against Cleveland, going 1-for-3 with a double in Oakland's win. In 91 plate appearances this year, he's batting .207/.275/.378 (80 OPS+) with two home runs. His main purpose on the current roster had been as Lawrie's backup at third, but with Valencia now here to fill that role Muncy was no longer needed.
Valencia is not in the lineup on Tuesday against Baltimore Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, but he should be at the Coliseum in time for the game -- the only question is if he'll be there in time for the team picture, which Susan Slusser mentions is being taken today. I can't think of anything more A's than having a guy in your team picture who hasn't ever actually played for your team yet. Maybe the A's just got him for today because he has a really nice smile? Nah, probably also to play baseball. (Note: The A's face left-hander Wei-Yin Chen on Wednesday, so Valencia will likely start that game.)
The A's lineup for tonight against the Orioles. #GreenCollar pic.twitter.com/nY9uUz1HgI— Oakland Athletics (@Athletics) August 4, 2015
One last thing: Slusser also reports that Valencia will wear jersey No. 26, which was worn by Scott Kazmir the last two seasons. Too soon, bro.