Should the Chicago Cubs dangle Luis Valbuena to the Giants?


After missing out on some of the top free agents at third base, the San Francisco Giants will need to get creative in filling the position. The Cubs could have the answer they’re looking for in Luis Valbuena.

During our Faux Winter Meetings, we made a deal to send Luis Valbuena to the San Francisco Giants for Tim Lincecum. You can take a look at the deal here. But after the Giants were spurned by the top free agents at third base, it’s time for them to get a little creative in finding a solution. The Chicago Cubs and Valbuena could very well be that answer.

The Giants held out a small hope they could sign Pablo Sandoval, but it was apparent early on in the process that he was looking for more than they would offer. Chase Headley chose New York, and the pickings have become slim. Now Valbuena could become one of the more attractive trades to the Giants, and a chance for the Cubs to cash in.

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Valbuena has been a consistent performer for the Cubs in his three years in Chicago. While the numbers aren’t eye-popping, (.232/.330/.394, 32 HR, 136 RBI), he works the count, puts the ball in play and had more than his fair share of clutch hits. With the likelihood that Kris Bryant will be up a few weeks after the start of the season (preventing his free agency clock from starting), and the safety net of Mike Olt, the Cubs could possibly acquire a mid-level pitching prospect or two from a team that knows pitching (Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner are all products of their system).

How high a prospect the Cubs can score depends on the Giants desperation to fill the void left by Sandoval. Valbuena alone can’t replicate the lost offense, but is a good glove in the field as well as a tough out at the plate. There is the possibility of a package deal, but the Cubs won’t give up any of their “top” prospects. This is a case of the Cubs holding power in the deal. If it’s not beneficial to them they simply walk away.

One prospect, Adalberto Mejia could be a very feasible deal. Currently he sits as the No. 4 prospect for the Giants on, but Mejia will sit the first 50 games after testing positive for a stimulant in November. As a hard throwing left-hander, he has a high upside and is forecasted as a No. 3 starter. But a second positive test and he could miss most of a season. It’s very possible each team would be willing to take a gamble on the deal.

One position that continues to draw questions for the Cubs is the catcher position, in Chicago as well as the Minors. The addition of Miguel Montero has shored up the MLB roster, but there isn’t much depth in the system. The Giants No. 3 prospect, Andrew Susac, could be another viable option. With Buster Posey signed through 2012, it’s unlikely Susac would see a starting gig behind the plate anytime soon. But he’s expected to compete for an Opening Day roster spot in the Giants eyes nonetheless. They may ask for another throw-in, anything outside of a low-level player would nix the deal.

Could the Cubs try to pull the same deal we did in our Faux meetings for Lincecum? It’s not likely. If the Giants would be willing to pick up part of the $18 million owed, the team might consider. It would also be a low-risk as Lincecum would be a one-and-done, barring a comeback season.

Regardless, the Cubs have an opportunity to strike while the iron is hot, and while they are in control. While Valbuena can still play an important part for the 2015 Cubs, it’s clear that upon the arrival of Bryant and hopeful improvement of Javier Baez, at-bats for him will become fewer, and getting value for him while they can is a smart move to make.

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