Oakland Athletics 2016 Preview: Third Baseman Danny Valencia


Oakland Athletics claimed infielder Danny Valencia off of waivers during the 2015 season

The Oakland Athletics currently have a very crowded roster. However, one player who is not on the trade chopping block is third baseman Danny Valencia. Going into the 2016 season, Valencia is expected to be the A’s starting fielder at third.

Valencia joined the Athletics late in 2015. Prior to be claimed off of waivers on August 3, Valencia was part of the then red hot Toronto Blue Jays. Despite performing quite well in Toronto, the Blue Jays did not have any room on the roster for Valencia after being very active during the mid-season trade deadline. Thus, he was designated for assignment and Oakland was able to bring him to the West Coast.

Before Valencia dawned green and gold, he was hitting .296/.331/.506 with seven homers in 58 games with the Blue Jays. His continued to produce offensively once he came to Oakland. While with the A’s, Valencia hit 11 home runs and 37 RBI in just 47 games played.

After the acquisition of middle infielder Jed Lowrie this offseason, it seemed as though Valencia would be traded and Brett Lawrie would move back to third. However, because Lawrie drew more interest from other teams and Valencia was ultimately stronger offensively, the Athletics decided to keep Valencia and trade Lawrie. This move guaranteed Valencia the starting role at third base for the 2016 season.

Valencia will now have the opportunity to play a full season with the Oakland Athletics. It is expected that his bat will still have the same power as last year, which is good news for the A’s. However, he will need to work on his defense. Over his six year MLB career, Valencia has a .965 fielding percentage at third. Even though this is a step up from Lawrie, who held a dismal .937 fielding percentage at third in 2015, there is still room for improvement when it comes to Valencia’s defense.

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Thus, he has been working with Oakland’s infield coach Ron Washington. John Hickey of Bay Area News Group reported that manager Bob Melvin was impressed with Valencia’s hard work, proving that Valencia wants to be more than just a power bat. Washington worked wonders with rookie shortstop Marcus Semien last year and has a great track record when it comes to improving players’ defensive skills.

Even though there was some worry that Valencia’s attitude would hinder his ability to mesh with the team or coaches, the Athletics must believe he is a good fit for the 2016 roster since they kept him in Oakland and traded Lawrie this offseason. If Valencia can maintain his strong bat while also improving his defense at third, he could become a big part of the A’s roster for years to come. Despite being 31 years old, it seems as though Valencia is finally hitting his stride.

Bold Prediction: Danny Valencia will become a star player for the Oakland Athletics during this upcoming season because of his power bat and will make the 2016 American League All Star team.

Next: Reconsidering the Jon Lester Trade

Will Danny Valencia become a 2016 All Star? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!