The Red Sox have released minor-league outfielder-turned-pitcher Freddy Valdez, per the club’s transactions log.
Valdez, 21, was one of five players Boston acquired as part of the three-team trade with the Royals and Mets that sent outfielder Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City in February 2021. The Red Sox initially obtained outfielder Franchy Cordero and right-hander Josh Winckowski and then received three more prospects (Valdez, and righties Grant Gambrell and Luis De La Rosa) as players to be named later that June.
At the time of the trade, Valdez was regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 14 prospect in the Mets’ farm system after originally signing with the club for $1.450 million as an international free agent coming out of the Dominican Republic in July 2018.
As a then-19-year-old outfielder, Valdez had impressed scouts by flashing intriguing power potential and athleticism. Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom had high praise for the right-handed hitter after acquiring him from New York.
“Corner outfielder, power-profile,” Bloom said of Valdez when speaking with reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) back in June 2021. “ery young. For a guy who is as power-oriented as he was as an amateur — and who has a lot of the strengths and weaknesses that come with that profile — to get into pro ball and perform the way he did initially was really impressive. Got him on our radar. And we got to see him a little bit in extended (spring training).”
Despite the high praise from Bloom, Valdez struggled at the plate in each of the last two seasons and never graduated past rookie ball. He batted just .229/.356/.33 with no home runs and 16 RBIs over 31 Florida Complex League games in 2021 and then slashed .192/.286/.289 with one homer and nine RBIs across 22 games while repeating the same level last year.
On the heels of back-to-back disappointing campaigns, Valdez was converted into a pitcher earlier this season. But the 6-foot-3, 212-pounder never made it out of extended spring training before being cut loose by the Red Sox on Thursday.
Valdez joins Cordero, who was non-tendered over the winter after spending two seasons in Boston, as two pieces from the Benintendi trade who are no longer with the organization. The three players who remain are all pitchers. Winckowski, 24, has posted a 2.15 ERA in 17 appearances (29 1/3 innings) out of the Red Sox bullpen so far this year. Gambrell, 25, was recently promoted from High-A Greenville to Double-A Portland and has put up a 1.69 ERA in his first two starts (10 2/3 innings) with the Sea Dogs. De La Rosa, 20, owns a 2.88 ERA in 25 innings of work for Low-A Salem.
As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, though, neither Gambrell or De La Rosa are ranked among the top 60 prospects in the Red Sox’ farm system by SoxProspects.com.
(Picture of Freddy Valdez: Bryan Green/Flickr)