Valencia is one of the established stars of Mexican baseball, a perennial All-Star second baseman with a career .289 average and 135 careers homers in his tenth Mexican League season. He has also played for the Mexican National Team in the Olympics and Baseball World Cup. Valencia missed part of this season after undergoing surgery on his right tibia.
However, it’s not as if Mateo wasn’t getting the job done in Valencia’s absence. The ex-Montreal second baseman was hitting .338 at the time of his release, leading the Liga with 76 runs scored over 67 games for both Laguna and Mexico City. Mateo’s 21 stolen bases are second only to Alexis Gomez’ 29 swipes for Laguna.
One other reason for his release was the signing of Venezuelan reliever Francisco Butto, a former Phillies and Yankees farmhand who saved four games for the Caracas Leones in the 2009 Caribbean Series. Since LMB teams are limited in the number of import players they can carry, the Dominican Mateo became the odd man out with the Diablos.