Orioles lose Valaika on waiver claim

The competition for a utility job with the Orioles has grown thinner.

The Diamondbacks claimed Pat Valaika off waivers this afternoon after the Orioles designated him for assignment on Friday while selecting Richard Ureña off waivers from the Blue Jays.

Ureña is poised to break camp with the team as a backup at various positions, most importantly shortstop behind starter José Iglesias. Meanwhile, Valaika is joining his third organization since Oct. 30.

Valaika-Swings-Rockies-Sidebar.jpgThe Orioles claimed Valaika off waivers from the Rockies and he provided infield insurance up the middle, which had become a priority with Jonathan Villar traded to the Marlins and Richie Martin a consideration for an assignment to Triple-A Norfolk. They were hoping to outright Valaika and bring him to camp.

Valaika, 27, batted .190/.256/.316 with five doubles, one triple and one home run in 2019 and struck out 34 times in 86 plate appearances with the Rockies. He endured an 0-for-30 slump.

The Orioles were able to retain pitchers Marcos Diplán and Eric Hanhold after they were designated for assignment and cleared waivers. No one else is in limbo after today’s news.

Martin will be allowed to compete for a utility job in camp, according to executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias. Stevie Wilkerson also is in the mix after proving last season that he could move all over the field.

The Orioles re-signed José Rondón to a minor league deal and he’s likely to receive an invitation to spring training and a chance to make the club. He’s made 24 starts at shortstop in the majors, 17 at third base and 16 at second.

Shortstop also has been Rondón’s primary position in the minors, but he’s handled every infield spot and made one appearance in left and right field.

Rondón slashed .219/.313/.356 in 21 games with Norfolk after the Orioles claimed him off waivers from the White Sox on July 30. He cleared waivers and was outrighted after one plate appearances with the Orioles.

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