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Minnesota Twins Transactions: Danny Valencia Traded, Tsuyoshi Nishioka Recalled

The Minnesota Twins made some news on the transaction wire on Sunday, trading third baseman Danny Valencia to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for minor league outfielder Jeremias Pineda. In a corresponding move, the team recalled infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka from Triple-A Rochester to take Valencia’s roster spot.

Valencia was Minnesota’s Opening Day third baseman this year before struggling and being demoted to Triple-A before being recalled recently when Trevor Plouffe suffered a thumb injury. Overall this season with the Twins Valencia hit .198 with two home runs and 17 RBI over 126 at-bats and he didn’t fair a lot better with Rochester, hitting .250 with seven home runs and 37 RBI in 268 at-bats. He did lead the Twins in RBI in 2011 with 72 as he hit 15 home runs along with a .246 batting average, but his struggles defensively drew the ire of the team’s coaches and he always seemed to be in manager Ron Gardenhire’s doghouse. Valencia did finish third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting in 2010, as he hit .311 with seven home runs and 40 RBI in 299 at-bats, but since he will turn 28 in September it’s fair to wonder if that is his ceiling.

Nishioka had a very disappointing first season in Minnesota in 2011, hitting just .226 with 19 RBI and two stolen bases over 221 at-bats while playing sub-par defensively at both middle infield spots. A broken leg in April can be partially blamed for the difficult transition to the big leagues after spending his entire career playing in Japan, but when given a chance to make the team out of spring training this year Nishioka failed to do so and has spent the entire season to this point in Triple-A. He has not exactly lit up the stat sheet in Rochester either, hitting .245 with one home run, 24 RBI and eight stolen bases in 84 games (322 at-bats), but reports suggest he has played better recently after a slow start.

As for Pineda, he hit .421 with 22 RBI and 14 stolen bases over 133 at-bats for Boston’s rookie league team in the Gulf Coast League this season, and all 260 of his career minor league plate appearances have come at the rookie-league level over the past two seasons. The Red Sox signed him out of the Dominican Republic prior to the 2011 season. At just 21 years old, he may have some upside potential.