Valaika cleared waivers Monday and elected free agency, Steve Melewski of MASNSports.com reports. Valaika hit a surprising .277/.315/.475 in the shortened 2020 season, but he didn't come anywhere near that this year. His .201/.250/.290 line in 91 games was even worse than the .214/.256/.400 line he posted in his first four years in the league. He's unlikely to generate much interest in anything more than a minor-league deal on the open market.
Valaika was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday, Rich Dubroff of BaltimoreBaseball.com reports. Valaika took on a starting role across the final few weeks of the 2021 campaign but failed to generate much production. Across 91 appearances in 2021, he hit .201 with five home runs, 25 RBI, 17 runs and a stolen base.
Valaika went 1-for-4 with a two-run home run in Friday's 6-4 loss to Toronto. The second baseman contributed half of Baltimore's offense in a four-run eighth inning. Valaika has hit a reasonable .273 (9-for-33) in his last 10 games, adding a homer and three doubles in that span. He's slashing just .199/.250/.291 with five long balls, 25 RBI, 17 runs scored and a stolen base in 273 plate appearances overall.
Valaika isn't starting Thursday's game against the Rangers, Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com reports. Valaika will get a breather after he went 5-for-12 with a double and three strikeouts across the last three games. Richie Martin will take his place at shortstop and bat seventh.
Valaika will start at shortstop and bat seventh Wednesday against the Yankees. After getting a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday and taking over Jorge Mateo's (back) spot on the 40-man roster, Valaika entered the lineup for the Orioles' 7-2 loss and went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run. He'll pick up another start Wednesday, this time stepping in against a left-handed pitcher (Nestor Cortes). With Jahmai Jones on the bench for a third straight contest, Valaika looks as though he'll get a look in a near-everyday role in the infield along with Kelvin Gutierrez and Ramon Urias.