Last August the Oakland A's, by virtue of being in last place, were gifted a slugging third baseman named Danny Valencia. Since then he's been among the best hitters in the game. Alex Hall looked into Valencia's dominance, questioning whether to believe in it or not.
I was skeptical at first, but after seeing many of Valencia's plate appearances with my own eyes, I'm ready to believe Valencia is the real deal. We all know about Khris Davis' tendency to crush baseballs, but did you know that Valencia isn't too far behind Davis when it comes to hitting baseballs very, very hard? While Davis' average exit velocity is a clean 94 MPH Valencia's 93.6, good for 26th in baseball. Exit velocity and hard-hit rates aren't everything, but when a player makes a habit out of hitting the ball hard success seems to follow.
Valencia has made the A's a better team since he first arrived. My question now becomes: should the A's trade Danny Valencia now?
The Case For
The A's are five games under .500 and it's already June 1st. What value does a 31-year old, all-bat-no-glove third baseman have to a (semi) rebuilding Athletics team? Without a doubt he has enjoyed the greatest 140-game stretch of his career, but a hitter who will only go downhill from here is more useful as a trade chip than an everyday player for a team with eyes on 2017.
The Kansas City Royals just lost their everyday third baseman to a season-ending injury. The Mets are without a pair of corner infielders and have turned their lonely eyes to James Loney. There are teams who could really benefit from a 140 wRC+ boost to their lineup. Could the A's snag a solid prospect or two for the slugger?
The Case Against
The A's are just five games under .500 and it's only June 1st! Valencia is hitting like he wants a plane ticket (or at least an Amtrak pass) to San Diego, Calif. For the 2016 All-Star game. If there is a chance that the A's can sneak into the playoffs Valencia will have much to do with it. Also Valencia is under club control through 2017, so there is still a very real chance he's around and productive as the next wave of A's greatness rolls in. Afterall, the team will most likely need a right fielder next season.
Really it is too early to tell how the front office will handle the tradable assets on the roster. The A's always build for .500 and hope for better. If August comes and the As are knocking on the door of the postseason Valencia will be a key figure in the team's success. If they decide to cash in their chips early, however, can you blame them?