No… I’m not talking about tattoos.
Luis Valbuena signed a 1 year/$930,000 deal with the Cubs today to avoid arbitration. The arb deadline isn’t until next Friday which indicates that this deal was more of a mutual understanding of value between the two parties compared to a bidding war.
September 7, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Chicago Cubs third baseman Luis Valbuena (24) wrestles in the outfield with the Pittsburgh Pirates mascot before the game at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Valbuena spent much of last season playing 3B for the Cubs after Ian Stewart re-aggravated a wrist injury. While Luis posted solid defensive metrics, his batting left much to be desired at a .219/.310/.340 triple slash line in 265 AB.
This signing doesn’t come as a shock to anyone, and Valbuena will fill the same roll he did last year as a utility infielder. Stewart may need rest for his wrist, and Darwin Barney can’t start all 162 games, so Valbuena will see some playing time.
It’s not to say he’s a lost cause at the plate this season either. His batting was sub-par last year, but he’s been posting very good numbers in the Venezuelan Winter League, including a solid BB%. This could mean he’s being selective at the plate and indicates his timing has improved significantly. It’s hard to tell just from numbers, but I have faith he’s doing much better in the batter’s box now.
The Valbuena signing also somewhat alleviates what was a 3B crisis earlier this offseason, but it’s more of a patch up for the time being. The Cubs will still need a solid 3B for a run at the World Series should Stewart’s health not hold up.
Regardless, it’s a safe move and a necessary one at that.