D-backs claim infielder Pat Valaika off waivers from Baltimore
The Arizona Diamondbacks added a familiar infielder on Thursday, claiming former Colorado Rockies utility man Pat Valaika off waivers from the Orioles.
Valaika never played for Baltimore. He went there in October after the Rockies put him on waivers, but now he winds up back in the NL West.
The 27-year-old Valaika is primarily a middle infielder who played most of his innings last year at second base — a position of need for the D-backs with the departure of Wilmer Flores, and Ketel Marte going to center field.
Valaika can also play shortstop, third base, first base and outfield — all of which are positions where he’s seen at least some number of innings at the major league level.
The move brings the D-backs’ 40-man roster to 40. In a corresponding transaction, pitcher Jimmie Sherfy — who was designated for assignment last week — was outrighted to Reno.
Valaika has been particularly proficient as a pinch-hitter, ranking first in MLB in extra-base hits (16) as a pinch-hitter since 2017. He is 27-for-99 as a pinch hitter in that span. He also was an All-Star for Triple-A Albuquerque in the Pacific Coast League last season.
Last year, Valaika played 40 games for Colorado, hitting only .190 with a .572 slugging percentage. His best year in the majors was in 2017, when he played 110 games, hit .258 with an .817 OPS, 13 home runs and 40 RBIs.
The UCLA alumnus bats right-handed and is better against left-handed pitching. For his career, he hits .236 with a .752 OPS against lefties.