Washington Nationals Analysis: Could Danny Valencia Be A Fit For The Nats’ Bench?


While the Washington Nationals addressed one of their key needs at the trade deadline by dealing for Phillies’ closer Jonathan Papelbon, one of the holes that they did not address was on the bench. While the bench got an upgrade with Danny Espinosa moving into a secondary role because of the return of Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, and Jayson Werth, the bench could still use some new pieces.

After last night’s 3-2 loss to the New York Mets, Nats’ players are hitting a mere .198 in pinch-hitting situations. Only the Pirates and Mets have lower batting averages in those spots this season in the National League. While the trade deadline is over in terms of non-waiver moves, a team can pick up a player if they are put on waivers by another club.

On Saturday afternoon, one player was put on waivers that could be of good use to the Nats for his position flexibility. Before Toronto’s game on Saturday, they designated utility player Danny Valencia for assignment. The main reason for DFA’ing Valencia was because the Blue Jays had traded for Phillies’ outfielder Ben Revere on Friday and wanted to make him the everyday outfielder.

Even though the Blue Jays designated the 30-year-old Valencia, it appears that he could be claimed when he is eligible to be selected off waivers on Monday. Despite cutting him, general manager Alex Anthpoulos had some nice words to say about him in terms of how he can fit in with a club:

The first thing that stands out about Valencia is his position flexibility. While the Nationals have a player like that in Espinosa, Valencia has played games this season at left field, right field, first base, second base, third base, and designated hitter. In 58 games, he is hitting .296 with seven home runs, 29 RBI’s, and a .331 on-base percentage.

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While the right-handed hitter has not had many chances to get into the lineup as an everyday player, Valencia had a .313 average over the course of 32 at-bats in the month of June to go with a .361 on-base percentage. Even though Valencia has not played for a National League team in his career since starting up with the Twins in 2010, he does have a .340 batting average in 47 career InterLeague games (seven home runs, 30 RBI’s, .367 on-base percentage).

If the Nats were to make a move to add another player for the bench, one of those players that could go is first baseman/outfielder Tyler Moore. After a great spring training, Moore has not carried that success into the regular season.

The 28-year-old right-handed hitter is hitting .211 with four home runs, 22 RBI’s, and just a .261 on-base percentage. Yes, it is tough for a player to get into a rhythm when they are coming off the bench, but Moore has struggled coming off the bench this year. Moore has 36 at-bats as a pinch-hitter (tied for second in the NL), but he is hitting .111 with one home run and three RBI’s.

With Moore and Dan Uggla (.194, 1 HR, 14 RBI’s) struggling this season, it is time for the Nationals to use the August 31 waiver deadline to find pieces to hep their bench for the stretch run. While Danny Valencia isn’t a flashy name, he is a player that can come in and be a good clubhouse guy as well as contribute at the plate and in the field.

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