Raúl Valdés (born November 27, 1977) is a Cuban professional baseball pitcher with the Chunichi Dragons in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). He has played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros.
In 2003, Valdés defected from Cuba, where he was a member of the Cuban National team. He signed with the Chicago Cubs as a non-drafted free agent in 2004, and was assigned to the Cubs farm team of the Dominican Summer League. He posted a 7–2 record with a 0.51 earned run average in 16 games for the Dominican Cubs, holding the opponents to a .127 batting average. He also saw action as an outfielder, batting .241 with 12 doubles and 26 runs batted in in 50 games, and was selected for the DSL Post-Season All-Star.
Valdés opened 2005 with Double-A West Tenn, but was promoted rapidly to Triple-A Iowa on May 9. He went 2–0 in five starts, struck out 18 batters and issued just three walks over 23 innings of work for West Tenn. While in Iowa, he was 6–7 with a save in 25 appearances (17 starts), working six or more innings in six of his starts, ending 5–0 with a 2.15 ERA in those outings.
In 2006, Valdés dropped to 1–3 with a 7.59 ERA in 32 innings for Iowa before being released.
Valdés joined the independent Can-Am League, going 2–1 with a 5.09 ERA in four games for the Nashua Pride and 7–3 with a 2.81 ERA in 17 games, including 12 starts, for the New Jersey Jackals.
Valdés signed a minor league contract with the New York Mets after the end of the season. He started 2007 with High-A St. Lucie and later was promoted to Double-A Binghamton. He combined for a 0–2 record with a 4.17 ERA and one save in 23 games (one start), before being released.
Since 2008, Valdés has pitched winter baseball for the Gigantes del Cibao of the Dominican League and Navegantes del Magallanes of the Venezuelan League. He represented the Dominican team in the 2010 Caribbean Series, in which he led all pitchers in wins (two) and strikeouts (13) and was selected to the All-Star Team.
Valdés was invited to spring training with the Mets in 2010. He was sent to the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons to start the season, but was quickly promoted to the major leagues. On May 11, Valdés got his first major league victory in an 8–6 win over the Washington Nationals. On July 6, Valdés was called back as the Mets placed Fernando Tatís on the 15-day disabled list. On August 13, Valdés was optioned to AAA along with Ryota Igarashi to make room for Pat Misch and Francisco Rodríguez. On November 5, Valdés was sent down to Triple-A Buffalo and became a free-agent after refusing the minor league assignment.
On November 23, 2010, Valdés signed a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training with the St. Louis Cardinals. Valdés made seven appearances for St. Louis, pitching in 5.1 innings and allowing two earned runs on six hits. He was designated for assignment on August 12, 2011.
On August 16, Valdés was claimed off waivers by the New York Yankees. On August 18, he was assigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Valdes declared for free agency on October 11.
On November 10, 2011, Valdés signed a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training with the Philadelphia Phillies. After opening the 2012 season with the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs, his contract was purchased by the Phillies on May 11, and he joined the club's 25-man active roster.
Valdés was claimed off waivers by the Houston Astros on October 2, 2013. He was designated for assignment on March 27, 2014. Valdes had his contract purchased by the Astros on April 17, 2014, and was placed on the club's 25-man roster. He was designated for assignment on May 4, and sent outright to the Triple-A Oklahoma City RedHawks on May 6.
Valdés was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays on May 19, 2014, for a player to be named later or cash considerations, and he was assigned to the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons. He elected free agency after the season ended.
On the December 2, 2014, Valdes signed a $400,000, 1-year deal with the Chunichi Dragons of the NPB.