The KC Royals ditched third baseman Danny Valencia in the middle of the 2014 season amid whispers that he was a clubhouse cancer. Now, word comes that Billy Butler and Valencia scuffled in the A’s clubhouse resulting in an injury to Butler.
Former Kansas City Royals teammates Billy Butler and Danny Valencia don’t seem too fond of each other after both moved on to Oakland. According to the San Francisco Chronicle beat writer Susan Slusser, Butler and Valencia squabbled in the A’s clubhouse on Friday.
Billy Butler has subsequently missed games on Saturday and Sunday, but Oakland manager Bob Melvin attributed his absence to nausea and vomiting.
When asked about the incident after the A’s loss to the White Sox on Sunday, Valencia refused to comment. But, according to ESPN, he did say:
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Thirty-year-old Billy Butler suffered through an awful season in 2015. He slashed a mere .251/.323/.390 with 15 HRs and an sub-par OPS of .713 (an OPS+ of 98, which is 2% below MLB average). Butler has rebounded somewhat in 2016 by hitting .286/.338/.419, but the A’s have relegated him to a part-time role. Butler just isn’t cutting it as a designated hitter with a $10 million annual contract.
Meanwhile, Danny Valencia has emerged as a regular player at third base after spending most of his career as a reserve. In 144 games over the last two seasons, Valencia has hit an impressive .296/.353/.495 with 26 home runs and 81 RBIs. He’s accumulated 2.6 bWAR (Baseball-Reference Wins Above Replacement) in nearly a full-season of games with Oakland.
Danny Valencia Made Trouble In Toronto, Too
Valencia also hit well as a bench player with the Blue Jays after the KC Royals dealt him to Toronto in 2014. Valencia slashed .269/.303/.739 with 9 home runs in 316 at bats between 2014 and 2015. Yet, rumors circulated that he wasn’t beloved in the Blue Jays clubhouse either.
Toronto designated Valencia for assignment on August 1, 2015. Rumors indicated they tried to deal him at the deadline, but couldn’t find any takers. Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun wrote:
"What’s inside a clubhouse and outside a clubhouse so often differs. From the outside, it was easy to indicate the Blue Jays would miss Danny Valencia, the bat lost on waivers to Oakland. From inside the clubhouse, the opinion is clearly the opposite. Valencia wasn’t exactly Mr. Congeniality with Jays players or clubhouse workers."
The Butler/Valencia tiff in Oakland seems to confirm many of the whispers that followed his trade out of Kansas City. The KC Royals acquired then minor-league pitcher Liam Hendriks and back-up catcher Erik Kratz for Valencia on July 28, 2014. The Kansas City Royals made the deal even though third baseman Mike Moustakas was suffering through an awful year in which he slashed .212/.271/.361.
However, Eric Hosmer refuted the rumors about Danny Valencia behavior in KC with this tweet:
At the time, many thought it odd that the KC Royals would deal a right-handed bat that formed an effective platoon partner for the lefty Moustakas. Southpaw pitchers ate up Moustakas that season.
The Royals went on to win two straight American League pennants after Valencia’s departure. Their terrific team atmosphere drove Kansas City’s playoff success. Clearly, the KC front office knows how to manage their clubhouse.