The wheels with the Dodgers front office just never stop turning even on April Fools’ Day. The rumor that the Dodgers would swap outfielder Matt Kemp for Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun would have to logically speaking be an April Fool stunt. Nothing could be gained for the Dodgers in such a transaction, either in performance or in payroll management.
On Sunday, another announcement came across the wires that is now a fait accompli. It does not have baseball household names such as Kemp and Braun, but nonetheless is interesting and perhaps even a beneficial move by the Dodgers during the 2018 season. That most likely depends on the injury picture that unfolds during the season and beyond that looks some second base insurance moving into the 2019 season and perhaps beyond that.
FAZ completed a trade with the Cardinals in which they acquired 26-year-old infielder Breyvic Valera from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for 22-year-old minor league outfielder Johan Mieses.
Mieses hit .247 with 96 doubles, 13 triples, 68 home runs and 207 RBI in 411 career minor league games over five seasons in the Dodgers organization but ran into an offensive wall with the Tulsa Drillers during the 2017 season. Additionally, he is certainly backed up behind a plethora of outfielders at the minor league and major league level within the Dodgers organization.
Valera was originally signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Cardinals on May 16, 2010. He is certainly a player that the Cardinals did not want to lose but removing him from the 40-man roster made him available. He was expected to compete for a spot on the 2018 25-man St. Louis roster but his trusty bat suffered perhaps its first real lapse during spring training. It seems spring training statistics are important, at least with the Cardinals, and he became the victim of the numbers game and the odd man out.
The Dodgers moved in quickly when the Montalban, Venezuela native was designated for assignment by the Cardinals. Perhaps that explains why right-hander Cory Mazzoni was placed on waivers by the Dodgers after having claimed him on waivers from the Cubs just three days earlier. That is, to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Valera.
So what caught the eye of FAZ with Valera? I expect it is that he fits the profile of the players they like to add for depth at the MLB level. He is a switch hitter and although primarily a second baseman (418 games), he has had experience at third base (52 games), shortstop (121 games) and the outfield (149 games).
He also has an impressive minor league resume with a lifetime batting average of .303 over eight seasons. During the 2017 season with the AAA Memphis Redbirds he hit .314 with eight home runs, 41 runs batted in and 11 stolen bases.
From July 4 through the end of the 2017 season, Valera ranked 12th among all minor leaguers with a .359 average including 24 multi-hit games . During one stretch his bat was especially hot with a 26-game hitting streak. From July 30 through August 29 he hit .366 with a .415 OBP .
The 5’10”/184-pound Valera struck out just 34 times in his 424 at-bats during the 2017 season. During his 800 minor league games he has posted a .359 OBP while striking out 236 times in 2948 at bats. He walked 260 times.
John Mozeliak, the Cardinals’ president of baseball operations, appeared to be especially high on Valera and in mid-February considered him to be a viable option for a bench option with the Cardinals
In discussing bench options, Mozeliak said, “The one I wouldn’t lose sight of is Breyvic, from an offensive standpoint. He is a switch hitter. He really can play anywhere. If you’re looking at a 25th man. . . if there’s a left-handed bat, what could it be? Well, the one guy internally I feel like we overlook is Breyvic.”
Mozeliak most likely was not pleased to lose Valera but could at least acquire another prospect for him in a trade. No doubt FAZ is pleased to add another versatile young, experienced player to their stable of versatile infielders.
The 2016 Venezuelan Winter League Most Valuable Player was a September call up with the Cardinals in 2017 and had but one hit in 10 at bats.
Breyvic Valera will start the current season with the Oklahoma City Dodgers and has two option years left. A call up by the Dodgers at some point during the current campaign is not out of the realm of possibilities.
DODGERS ACQUIRE JESUS LIRANZO FROM ORIOLES
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers today acquired right-handed pitcher Jesus Liranzo from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for minor league left-handed pitcher Luis Ysla. Liranzo will be optioned to Double-A Tulsa.
Liranzo, 23, has gone 7-8 with two saves and has posted a 3.71 ERA in 91 career minor league games (15 starts) over five professional seasons with the Braves (2012-13) and the Orioles (2013-17) organizations. He has held hitters to a career .194 average and has struck out 202 batters in 170.0 innings.
In 2017, Liranzo spent the entire season with Baltimore’s Double-A Bowie, going 3-4 with two saves and posting a 4.85 ERA (35 ER/65.0 IP) in 31 games (12 starts). He struck out 75 batters against 43 walks in 65.0 innings, while also holding the opposition to a .224 average.
The Dominican Republic native was originally signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Braves on May 4, 2012.
Ysla, 25, split the 2017 season between the Red Sox Double-A Portland and the Dodgers Double-A Tulsa, combining to go 1-5 with one save and posting a 5.28 ERA (34 ER/58.0 IP) in 36 relief appearances.
In order to create room on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers transferred right-handed pitcher Tom Koehler to the 60-day disabled list (retroactive to March 26). Koehler started the season on the 10-day DL after suffering a right shoulder strain during Spring Training.