San Francisco Giants Add Swiss Army Knife in Breyvic Valera
By Jeff Young
The San Francisco Giants continued their offseason of doing very little. Farhan Zaidi likes versatility, and he got that by adding Breyvic Valera.
Valera signed with the St. Louis Cardinals as an international free agent in 2010. He was picked up by the Los Angeles Dodgers last season so Zaidi has some familiarity with him.
Then, he was traded from the Dodgers to the Baltimore Orioles as part for of a package for Manny Machado. It should be noted that Valera was not necessarily considered the center piece of said package.
His stay with the Orioles was short-lived. Now, he has a new home:
Yes, the San Francisco Giants pursuit of the bargain market continues. Valera gives the Giants some added versatility. According to Zaidi, versatility is good.
Valera has professional experience at all positions with the exception of first base, pitcher, and catcher. Though, he probably knows how to operate a catcher’s mitt. In addition to this, Valera is a switch-hitter. He truly is a jack-of-all-trades.
Though, despite Valera’s versatility, his offensive tools are mostly below-average, which is why he was available. He has posted a .299/.375/.388 slash line across 9 minor league seasons. However, he has struggled to the tune of a .529 OPS in cups of coffee with both the Cardinals and Orioles.
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Valera has proven to be very difficult to strikeout. That can be a good trait at AT&T Park, which has a very spacious outfield. Throughout his minor league career, Valera has struck out only 270 times while working 297 walks.
That might be the most interesting stat for Valera. Though, another interesting nugget is that Valera has hit 17 of his 23 professional home runs over the past 2 seasons. So, the increase in power could be from a mechanical adjustment.
Valera is a difficult acquisition to assess since his has very little major league experience. He only has 86 career plate appearances. He has second base, third base, shortstop, and right field at the major league level. However, these are all in small sample territory.
It is possible Valera may not impact the Giants this season. Though, he is a player who Bruce Bochy might be able to slot into several different situations. None of those situations include hitting home runs.
If the San Francisco Giants need someone to put the ball in play, that might be a situation in which Valera appears. This was the type of situation where the Giants struggled badly last season.
This move is one that perhaps strengthens the back-end of the 40-man roster. Valera has some experience, and could fill a very, limited role. Or, he might hit 40 home runs this year. That seems unlikely, but it is a fun thought experiment.