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11/30/1985 (31 y, 3 m, 25 d)
$15M / 2 Years (2017 - 2018) + 1 Option Years
Valbuena was diagnosed with a Grade 1 right hamstring strain and will be out for 4-6 weeks. (3/23/2017)
Roto Riteup March 24, 2017
Jessica Kleinschmidt (RotoGraphs)
Market Watch: A Blizzard of Activity
Paul Sporer (RotoGraphs)
The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 420 – Mr. Solo D»
Paul Sporer (RotoGraphs)
Luis Valbuena to Take Flight in LA
Travis Sawchik (FanGraphs)
Mark Trumbo and the Everyday Player Tax
Dave Cameron (FanGraphs)
(Click Year to Expand /
Year in Review:
Acquired in a December 2008 deal between the Indians, Mets and Mariners that saw 12 players change addresses, Valbuena became Cleveland's starting second baseman against right-handed pitching while also getting some starts at shortstop. The former M's prospect displayed surprising power, posting a .166 ISO and popping 10 homers; the Venezuelan native had a .139 ISO in his minor league career. Valbuena's extra pop might have come at the expense of some walks, as he drew a free pass in less than 7% of his PAs after walking nearly 11% of the time in the minors. Opposing pitchers challenged the lefty batter with a fastball 62% of the time, and Valbuena managed to post a positive run value against heaters. However, he flailed against sliders, curveballs and change-ups, with run values well below average.
The Year Ahead:
Valbuena's value receives a slight boost from his time at shortstop; he'll qualify at both middle infield spots in most leagues. But fantasy owners can't really commit a roster spot to a guy who either won't be in the lineup or won't hit when a lefty toes the rubber. The Indians took every measure to shield him from lefties in 2009, as just 10% of Valbuena's PAs came against same-handed pitchers. In the minors, he managed a paltry .630 OPS against left-handers. Heading into 2010, Cleveland might consider breaking Jason Donald into the majors as Valbuena's caddy against southpaws. The infield prospect, acquired in the Cliff Lee deal, has an OBP over .390 against lefties in the minors. In order to become more than a platoon player, the 24-year-old Valbuena must find a way to hang tough against southpaw pitchers. (David Golebiewski)
Valbuena has not lived up to his potential of a few years ago and should struggle to make the Indians' Major League team this year. He looks to be a Triple-A MVP and just can't harness that ability to the majors. In 2008 to 2010, he had the following OPS rates while in the minors: .756/.975/1.032. In those same years while he was in the Majors his OPS rates were .662/.714/.531. So far in the Majors, he has a batting average of .227 in 762 plate appearances. In 2009, he was able to put up 10 home runs in 91 games, but was not able to continue that trend in 2010 when he hit just two in 91 games. The other problem, besides his inability to effectively hit the ball, is that prospect Jason Kipnis is looking to break into the majors. Kipnis should start the season at Triple-A and could get a call-up sometime during the season. Valbuena will probably get one more shot at 2B and, if he falters, Kipnis will take over. There is also a good chance that the incumbent may be moved to a team looking for help at second base or off the bench. He should be drafted in deep AL-only leagues in the hope that he will be able to get his career going. (Jeff Zimmerman)
The Quick Opinion:
Valbuena looks to have one more shot at achieving his potential and securing a full-time gig with the Indians.
Rarely do you want a guy traded for the infamous "cash considerations" on your fantasy team, but Luis Valbuena may have taken a step towards relevance with the move to Toronto. A second baseman who never proved himself in Cleveland, Valbuena had been relegated to a utility role for the Indians and wasn't even their first choice in that role (he was behind Jason Donald). Now he is a potential starting second baseman in Toronto (pending another pick up this off-season) and while the Major League numbers are not pretty (.209/.227/.279 in 43 PAs in 2011; .193/.273/.258 in 310 the previous year), Valbuena has been a terrific offensive middle infielder in Triple-A (.302/.372/.476 with 17 HR and 6 SB in 2011). If he ends up the starter in Toronto, he probably still isn't worth drafting, but he might be worth a late round flyer in deeper leagues, and is definitely a guy to keep an eye on as the season progresses. The potential for a solid AVG/OBP and double-digit home runs is there -- if he can put it together. (Chad Young)
The Quick Opinion:
Valbuena has consistently hit Triple-A pitching going back to 2008, but that success hasn't translated to the majors. If he gets a shot, there may be some upside here, but he probably isn't worth a draft pick in most leagues.
Luis Valbuena struggles against fastballs, and is Michael-Jackson-bad against all other pitches. In an alternate world in which the Cubs actually cared about the difference between 61 and 65 wins, Luis Valbuena does not get 303 plate appearances last season. But in this world, where the Cubs are suppressing arbitration clocks and dropping bench players into starting roles, Luis Valbuena gets 303 PA. Barring something magical, do not put Luis Valbuena on your fantasy team in 2013. (
If you squint, Valbuena’s 2013 season was impressive. His 391 plate appearances were the most he’s had since 2009, as a member of the Indians. His walk rate was a career high 13.6%, and he managed to cut his strikeouts as well (16.1% vs. a career rate of 18.8%). His .160 isolated slugging percentage was 15th best among third basemen with at least 350 plate appearances -- ten points better than Chase Headley. Only a .233 batting average on balls in play conspired to rob Valbuena of the credit his 2013 deserved. Assuming that rebounds closer to his career .260 rate, the Venezuelan might be capable deep league roster filler. The Cubs elected not to sign an everyday third baseman over the winter, but with Mike Olt and Kris Bryant in the fold, playing time at the hot corner will be a storyline to follow in spring training. (
The Quick Opinion:
A batting average on balls in play 27 points below his career rate masked a season in which Valbuena walked often and hit for solid power. How his playing time shakes out in 2014 with the likes of Mike Olt and Kris Bryant breathing down his neck will determine his value.
In 2012, Luis Valbuena looked like a fine waiver wire acquisition for the Cubs bench. In 2013, he looked like a great defensive third baseman with the potential to start on a second-tier team. And in 2014, he looked like a legit starting third baseman, playing great defense and slashing a solid .249/.341/.435 with 33 doubles and 16 homers. Where does that leave him entering the 2015 season? Before his trade to the Astros: Right in the war path of a one Kris Bryant, Galaxy-Class Prospect. Now? He has the potential to be a solid third baseman for years to come -- or at least for another year as Colin Moran finishes seasoning in Triple-A. Valbuena will be only 29 heading into the season, and he appears to just now be hitting his stride. Sure, he might hit around league average, but his fielding is strong enough at third to keep him going and with Matt Dominguez as his platoon partner, his offense could peak again like it did in 2014. (
The Quick Opinion:
Valbuena quietly developed into a solid third baseman for the Cubs, and now with the Astros, he just about guaranteed a full year manning the big side of a platoon in Houston. An owner hoping for 300 to 400 plate appearances of decent hitting and positional flexibility could do worse than grab Valbuena, but he is entering his post-prime ages and has a good deal of playing time volatility with Colin Moran knocking on the door.
Those waiting on Valbuena to deliver a big season to follow up years of small, noticeable progressions were probably enthusiastic to start 2015 but tepid in that excitement by year's end. He had a career power year, belting 25 home runs in fewer than 500 plate appearances, but that was seriously front loaded due to a precipitous drop in fly ball rate in the summer. Now, Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow is saying the lefty will play every day in 2016 despite offense that was 38% worse than league average against southpaws last year (it's 19% worse for his career). Matt Duffy's the only natural platoon partner lurking, and Luhnow may want to see if the 30-year-old Valbuena can find success with more reps (he's had 442 lefty on lefty plate appearances). The drawback for fantasy owners is that the setup could be a drain on Valbuena's batting average, which is already a sure bet to be under .250 unless he sacrifices pop for average, as he appeared to late in the season. More time at the dish for a guy that hits more than 49% of his balls in the air -- most of them pulled and hit hard -- in a moderate hitter's park is a good thing, but that's less the case if that rate is in the low-40s as it was late last year. If he ever found a balance between power and average, there might be something here, but 20 empty homers from the hot corner -- he'll no longer be second-base eligible -- is a replacement-level fantasy asset in most leagues. (Blake Murphy)
The Quick Opinion:
Valbuena's career high in home runs was front loaded, as he traded for power for average late in the year. With no second base eligibility and little evidence he can hit for power and average together, it's hard to see Valbuena having mixed league value.
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Updated: Friday, March 24, 2017 3:37 AM ET
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