The Colorado Rockies have made a quintet of roster moves, involving four players leaving the team.
Also, the Rockies PR team announced that starting pitcher Tyler Anderson has been claimed off waivers by the San Francisco Giants, left-handed reliever Sam Howard has been claimed off waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Right-handed pitcher Chad Bettis cleared waivers and opted for free agency and right-handed pitcher Tim Melville has been outrighted to Triple-A Albuquerque.
The waiver claims brings a close to the seven years that Valaika spent in the Rockies organization, nine years that Anderson spent with the Rockies, 10 years Bettis has been with the Rockies, and six years Howard has spent in the organization.
For the Rockies, Valaika played like a Quadruple-A player as in Albuquerque, in 160 games between three seasons there, he hit .275/.315/.498 with 32 home runs and 119 RBI with 177 hits, including 40 doubles. His best season in Albuquerque was this past season when, in 84 games, he hit .320/.364/.589 with 22 home runs and 75 RBI.
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However, in 231 career MLB games, he has only hit .214/.256/.400 with a 59 OPS+. His MLB playing time has waned in each of the past two seasons as after playing in 110 MLB games in 2017, the number of games he appeared in dropped down to 68 in 2018 and only 40 in 2019.
In the past two seasons, the results became worse for Valaika as he only hit .169/.230/.274 with a 25 OPS+ in 219 plate appearances.
While it is not a huge loss for the Rockies, they do lose some infield depth with the loss of Valaika. With Daniel Murphy, Ryan McMahon, Trevor Story, and Nolan Arenado starting for the Rockies in the infield, their top backup options include Garrett Hampson, Ian Desmond, Brendan Rodgers (who’s recovering from his shoulder surgery from July), and Josh Fuentes.
Considering how poorly the Orioles have played in the past two seasons (a combined 101 wins in the past two seasons), Valaika definitely has a good shot at making the Orioles Opening Day roster.
Anderson, who will turn 30 in December, struggled mightily in 2019 before he was sidelined for the vast majority of the season due to injury. He suffered a knee injury during Spring Training, which may have contributed to his early struggles. He pitched to a 11.76 ERA in 5 starts for the Rockies, the last of which came on May 3. He would have been arbitration eligible for the second time this offseason so it is likely a cost-cutting move by the Rockies.
Bettis, 30, pitched to a 6.03 ERA for the Rockies in 39 games in 2019 (3 starts) and he also struggled in 2018 as well as he pitched to a 5.01 ERA (94 ERA+) in 27 games (20 starts).
Howard, who will turn 27 before Opening Day 2020, made his MLB debut with the Rockies in 2018 and appeared in 20 games for the Rockies in 2019, but he pitched to a 6.60 ERA. With Albuquerque in 2019, Howard pitched to a 3.91 ERA in 42 games.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Melville, 30, were to get a Spring Training invite as he is off the 40-man roster now but considering how he proved to be a semi-reliable guy in a pinch for the Rockies at the end of the season, he is definitely a good depth piece for the Rockies.
Editor’s Note: The news of Valaika being claimed off waivers was first reported by the Orioles so the original publishing of this article just included the news on Valaika. The news on Anderson, Bettis, Howard, and Melville were added later.