York Revolution manager Mark Mason again shored up his defense for the 2014 season while also getting the first big-name player of the year in his latest roster move Friday.
The Revs on Friday announced the acquisition of former big-league shortstop Wilson Valdez in a trade with the Camden Riversharks. In exchange, York sent infielder Wilson Batista to Camden to complete the deal. York also signed outfielder Mike Massaro, a 29-year-old former Oakland Athletics' prospect who was widely regarded as one of the top players in the independent American Association the last five seasons.
Valdez, who turns 36 in May, made his Atlantic League debut last season in Camden, collecting 37 stolen bases, scoring 45 runs and posting a .310 batting average in 90 games.
But York fans are more likely to know the Dominican Republic native from his time with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2010 and 2011. The Phils first brought up Valdez up to their big-league roster near the start of 2010 to fill in for an injured Jimmy Rollins, who ended up having an injury-plagued season. As a result, Valdez wound up seeing significant action at shortstop, in addition to second base, and went on to post career highs that year in games played (111), plate appearances (333), hits (86), triples (16), home runs (four), RBIs (35), stolen bases (seven), walks (21) and batting average (.258).
"I had a very good time over there (with the Phillies)," Valdez said in an interview with Philadelphia's KYW Radio back in June. "My best year in the major leagues was with the Phillies. I'm proud of myself (that) I became a good player with the Phillies."
Known for a flashy glove and strong arm, Valdez last played in the majors in 2012 with the Cincinnati Reds. He has 439 games of big-league experience since first appearing in the majors in 2004 with the Chicago White Sox. He first came to the Atlantic League after being released last May by the Miami Marlins.
"I'm trying (to get back to the bigs)," Valdez said in the KYW interview while playing for Camden. "If not, what am I going to do? I'll try my best and see what happens."
Mason had said last week he's aiming to put together a better defensive club in 2014. He did so with the addition of Valdez, who will give York stability at shortstop. Last season, the Revs started six players at the position, according to Revs' play-by-play broadcaster Darrell Henry.
However, York did lose some power in the lineup by shipping away Batista, who was one of the team's best clutch hitters last season on his way to hitting six homers with 67 RBIs, 26 doubles, 55 runs scored and batting .304 in 122 games.
MASSARO: Massaro, who turns 30 in April, is a former Oakland Athletics prospect who has spent the last five seasons playing independent ball with the Gary Southshore Railcats, where he had a career .318 batting average in 480 games. Last season, the Colorado native batted .303 with two homers, 60 RBIs, 60 runs scored and 11 steals in 97 regular season games, and helping Gary Southshore go on to capture the American Association championship. He posted a batting average above .300 in each of the five seasons with the Railcats. A 13th round draft pick of the A's in 2005, Massaro reached Class AAA Sacramento in 2008 and compiled a .280 batting average in 15 games.
York now has 11 players on board for 2014. Valdez joins infielder Ofilio Castro, catcher Salvador Paniagua, outfielders Ruddy Yan and Sean Smith, starting pitchers Corey Thurman and Alain Quijano and relievers Billy Spottiswood, Edward Paredes and Beau Vaughan. Valdez and Thurman are the only former big leaguers.
— Reach John Walk at email@example.com.