Valencia dealt to Red Sox

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 5, 2012 - 11:23 PM

The Twins cut the cord with their Opening Day third baseman.

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Danny Valencia was traded to the Red Sox on Sunday for Jeremias Pineda, a 21-year-old outfielder from the Dominican Republic playing in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune file

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BOSTON - The Twins could sense Danny Valencia's frustration building in recent days, as he struggled to re-establish himself in the major leagues at third base with Trevor Plouffe on the disabled list.

Valencia's personality grated on the Twins during happy times, so it wasn't pleasant for anyone involved with his future all muddled.

Once the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline passed, the Twins placed Valencia on waivers, and when Boston made a claim, the Twins pushed to close the deal during their series at Fenway Park.

The teams finalized a trade Sunday, with the Red Sox getting Valencia for Jeremias Pineda, a 21-year-old outfielder from the Dominican Republic playing in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League.

"This is the right thing for [Valencia], the chance to get a fresh opportunity," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "When Trevor comes back -- we think that's going to be when we get home [Friday] -- he's going to be our third baseman."

After a breakout season in 2010, Valencia, who turns 28 next month, was the regular Twins third baseman until May, when he was demoted to Class AAA Rochester with one home run and a .190 batting average.

When Plouffe landed on the DL because of a bruised right thumb July 27, Valencia came back and hit .231 with one home run in seven games. He managed six RBI, but he also had two errors and nine strikeouts.

"It wasn't a matter where we were down on him or anything," said Rob Antony, Twins assistant general manager. "It was just a situation where this might be a better opportunity for him."

It might be a change of scenery, but it's hard to see it as a better opportunity. The Red Sox have a Rookie of the Year candidate at third base in Will Middlebrooks, and they traded Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox in June to clear the way for him. Boston optioned Valencia to Class AAA Pawtucket.

Valencia, a 19th-round draft pick in 2006 who is very proud of his University of Miami swagger -- or "swag" as he calls it -- declined to comment through a Twins spokesman as he packed his bags for the minors.

The Twins transferred Pineda to their GCL affiliate. The switch hitter was batting .421 (56-for-133) with nine doubles, three triples and 14 stolen bases for Boston's GCL squad.

"Our staff's obviously seen him a lot because we play them a lot [in the GCL]," Antony said. "I saw him for a few games last week. He can run, he can throw, he can hit."

Still, at age 21, Pineda was one of the oldest players in the GCL.

"He's going to shift the balance of power over in the GCL," Antony said, chuckling. "The Red Sox are chasing us. We had to make a move to bolster the run."

Meanwhile, Plouffe has 19 home runs in 74 games, and he has handled third base pretty well defensively, too.

"I don't think we ever want to hand anybody a job, but Trevor has done a pretty good job over there," Antony said. "He's kind of established himself."

Antony also didn't sound concerned about the impact the Valencia trade could have on the Twins' third base depth.

"I think [Jamey] Carroll's shown he can [play third]," Antony said. "We can put [Alexi] Casilla over there. We've got [Sean] Burroughs in Triple-A. So I think we're fine for the time being, and Deibinson Romero's having a good year in Double-A."

Valencia had some good moments for the Twins two years ago, but they were clearly ready to move on.

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