Twins trade struggling third baseman Danny Valencia to Red Sox
Danny Valencia was once touted as the third baseman of the future.
Valencia never lived up to that billing, and on Sunday the Minnesota Twins traded him to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for minor league outfielder Jeremias Pineda. The Red Sox claimed Valencia off waivers and the two teams worked out a deal just prior to playing each other at Fenway Park on Sunday.
Valencia, who turns 28 in September, was hitting just .198/.212/.310 with two home runs in 132 plate appearances this season. After holding down the starting job at third base for nearly two full years, Valencia was sent to Triple-A Rochester in early May. Meanwhile, Trevor Plouffe, taking over at third base, emerged as one of the hottest hitters in baseball from mid-May through June.
Plouffe remains on the disabled list with a bruised thumb, but the Twins are optimistic internally that he will hold down the third base job into 2013.
In 1,062 career major league plate appearances, Valencia owns a .260/.301/.393 batting line with 24 home runs. Plouffe owns a career .241/.306/.445 batting line with 29 home runs, but this season he has broken out by hitting .259/.330/.525 with 19 home runs.
Valencia, who was selected by the Twins in the 19th round of the 2006 draft, was immediately optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Prior to spring training, Valencia spent three days a week at Impact Sports Performance in Boca Raton, Florida working on improving his third-base defense. Valencia's goal was to gain more agility, speed and first-step quickness, and throughout March and April he did appear to be staying lower to the ground and making more routine plays.
But according to advanced fielding metrics, Valencia cost the Twins 10 runs per 1,000 innings over the past two seasons compared to the average third baseman. And his hitting has gotten progressively worse since a stellar debut in 2010.
Pineda, 21, is 5-11, 175 pounds and hit .421/.447/.534 with 14 steals in 142 plate appearances for Boston's Gulf Coast League team (rookie ball). In 260 career minor league plate apearances -- all at the rookie-league level -- Pineda owns a .321/.380/.423 batting line with 20 stolen bases and one home run.
Pineda was signed by Boston prior to the 2011 season out of the Dominican Republic.