The Twins announced today that they have traded 3B Danny Valencia to the Boston Red Sox for 21-year-old GCL outfielder Jeremias Pineda. Valencia, 27, was taken by the Twins in the 19th round of the 2006 amateur draft and he made his big league debut with the Twins on June 3, 2010 at Safeco Field. Valencia hit .311 with 7 home runs in 299 at bats in 2010 and made the Topps All-Star Rookie team he but slumped in his first full season with the Twins in 2011 hitting just .246. In Valencia’s defense, he did hit 15 home runs and knocked in 72 runs for a team that won just 63 games. This season Valencia was hitting .253 at the end of April but the Twins were playing poorly and when Valencia went 0 for 25 in May, the Twins had seen enough and sent him back to AAA Rochester. The Twins recalled Valencia late in July when Trevor Plouffe went on the DL but since was recalled, Valencia has played in 7 games and has gone 6 for 25 with 9 strikeouts.
I think a number of things played a part in Valencia being sent packing. It wasn’t just his hitting that had tailed off but his play in the field had suffered as well. Valencia was considered the leader of the so-called Twins “fun bunch” in 2011 and the perception from the fans and from some members of the Twins organization was that Valencia did not take the game as seriously as he could. Couple that with the fact that Valencia had an air about him that seemed to send a message that he was entitled to be a big league player and that “humility” was a word that Valencia had never learned the meaning of and it was easy to dislike Danny Valencia, even here in Minnesota where Twins players are treated like royalty. To make matters worse, Valencia became a semi-permanent resident of manager Gardenhire’s dog house and once that happens, you might as well have your bags packed cause your address will be changing, it is just a matter of time. The Red Sox have assigned Danny Valencia to AAA Pawtucket.
In return for Valencia, the Twins received 21 year-old switch-hitting outfielder Jeremias Pineda. Pineda was signed by the Red Sox late in the 2010 international signing period for a reported $10,000 bonus. Pineda only hit .224 in the Dominican Summer League and .140 in the GCL last season. But this season Pineda is one of the older players in the GCL and is hitting a league leading .421 in 133 at bats with 20 runs scored, 22 RBI’s and 14 stolen bases in 21 attempts. Pineda is slight of build at 5’11″ and 175 pounds and is known for his speed and his plus throwing arm.
No one knows what the future holds for Valencia or Pineda but sometimes a change of scenery is benefical for all parties.