7/28/2014 10:42 P.M. ET
Blue Jays shore up infield depth, acquire Valencia
GM says club may not be done making moves; Kratz, Hendriks sent to Royals
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
BOSTON -- The Blue Jays provided some much-needed balance to their lineup Monday afternoon by acquiring infielder Danny Valencia from the Royals in a deal for catcher Erik Kratz and right-hander Liam Hendriks.
Toronto's batting order is predominantly left-handed and there's a void on the right side, especially while Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie are on the disabled list.
General manager Alex Anthopoulos attempted to help fix that, and while the trade is relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, it does address an area of need.
"We felt like we could use some help from the right side. Danny's had a lot of success," Anthopoulos told reporters during a conference call Monday night. "We've actually inquired about him in the past, just haven't been able to get anything done.
"We've really been trying to find all year -- we've definitely given some guys some opportunities from the Minor Leagues looking for that right-handed bat. He's had success at the big league level doing that and doing it well; it's a good fit for us."
Valencia is a career .265 hitter with a .304 on-base percentage. He was a part-time player with the Royals this season and appeared in 36 games while posting a .282 average and .710 OPS.
The true value of Valencia's game can be found when he faces left-handed pitching. He has a .333 average and .809 OPS vs. lefties, compared to a .227 average and .620 OPS against right-handers.
Valencia likely will see a lot of playing time at third base, at least until Lawrie returns at some point in August from a fractured right index finger. Anthopoulos was non-committal about Valencia's role after Lawrie returns, but the GM did say the Blue Jays have been trying to acquire a player like Valencia since Mark DeRosa retired after last season.
"Ever since we lost Mark DeRosa, we really haven't had anybody necessarily fill in at that spot," Anthopoulos said. "Steve Tolleson has done a nice job. A guy like Danny brings maybe a little bit more power, but we definitely can use -- because of all the left-handed bats we have on the team -- someone else who can help us out."
Kratz likely will welcome the change of scenery after he was shuttled between Toronto and Triple-A Buffalo on multiple occasions this year. He's regarded as a Major League catcher, but found himself third on Toronto's depth chart in part because backup Josh Thole is R.A. Dickey's personal catcher.
The 34-year-old Kratz appeared in 34 games this season and notched three homers and 10 RBIs. He also had three doubles and a .572 OPS, but saw limited action. Kratz is expected to join the Royals as a backup to Salvador Perez.
Hendriks has been enjoying a strong year at Triple-A Buffalo, but struggled during brief appearances in the Major Leagues. Hendriks gives up a lot of deep fly balls, which isn't a recipe for success at Rogers Centre. In three starts this season, he allowed nine runs in 13 1/3 innings.
Anthopoulos' move is far from being the blockbuster trade a lot of fans are hoping for, but the Blue Jays aren't necessarily done adding pieces. While it seems unlikely that the club will be able to pull off a major acquisition, Toronto's GM said he wouldn't rule anything out.
"There's always a chance, but I'd say all 29 other GMs would say the same thing," Anthopoulos said. "It's been very active in terms of phone calls, emails, texts, everyone seems to be exchanging ideas. That's expected. It seems that it's the same it's been the last few years around this time -- things start to ramp up.
"I don't know that I can really handicap what the potential are chances are for another deal. Trades are hard to make and I wouldn't say we're close to anything, but this deal came together fast, so anything can come together fast and we're going to continue to talk to clubs."