Potential Trade Chip: Jordany Valdespin
As the Mets approach the trading deadline, rumors will certainly fly about whom the Mets may acquire and what they will have to give up. While there is a lot of talk about prospects, there is the potential for someone who is Major League ready to be on the move. That someone might be Jordany Valdespin.
Valdespin, aged 24, is an interesting player. He is certainly dynamic, athletic and talented, but possesses some flaws. That being said, he has done enough to hold significant trade value.
Over his first 74 big league plate appearances, Valdespin is hitting .257/.297/.529 with four homers and five doubles. He burst onto the scene with a dramatic, three-run bomb off Jonathan Papelbonin Philadelphia and has produced other important hits along the way. In addition to power, Valdespin also possesses speed, something the Mets lack in the worst way, swiping four bases in five attempts. In 1698 minor league plate appearances, Valdespin has amassed a .284/.330/.428 line, with his best year coming in 2011; between Binghamton and Buffalo, Valdespin hit .294/.333/.468 with 17 of his 36 minor league homers. He also has stolen 92 bases in the minors while being caught 49 times.
So Valdespin can hit for average, has added some power and can run (even if he gets caught a decent amount)-why would the Mets trade a guy like that? For one thing, Valdespin is a free swinger-he’s drawn just two walks in the Majors this season and has walked in just 5.5% of his minor league plate appearances. That being said, he’s struck out in only 15.8% of his minor league PAs, a low rate considering how much he swings, demonstrating his ability to make contact. However, his low OBP is still something of which to be mindful.
But another, potentially larger issue is where Valdespin fits in with the club’s future. He’s shown good athleticism and the ability to handle the outfield (center included) and second base, and even shortstop in a pinch, but there isn’t an immediate place for him to play. Jason Bay is nearly locked into left field for the remainder of this year and next year due to his contract (and his right-handedness), there are better defensive options in center field (either Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Matt Den Dekker) and Valdespin doesn’t project to hit enough power to play right field. Ruben Tejada has done a great job at shortstop, leaving the only position left for Valdespin to play as second base, in which he would have to unseat Daniel Murphy. While that may be a possibility next season, it doesn’t seem likely for this year (and Murphy is a better hitter). Thus, Valdespin will probably be in a utility role for the remainder of the season, potentially gaining starts in center field of Kirk/Andres Torres struggle.
Valdespin is a good player for the Mets to have on their team in that he is dynamic, can hit for power, and play several positions. However, unless the Mets truly value Valdespin more than Murphy at second base, he won’t be more than a utility player for the Amazins. Therefore, if his name comes up in trade talks, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Mets to part ways with Valdespin.