Chicago Cubs re-sign infielder Chris Valaika


On Nov. 17, 2013, the Chicago Cubs rolled the dice on young infielder Chris Valaika after both sides were able to agree on a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training.

Now according to Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Cubs will bring him back for a second straight season on the North Side.

Shortly after the team shipped utility man Emilio Bonifacio and reliever James Russell off to the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 1, Valaika made his Cubs debut. Just nine days later on Aug. 20, Valaika launched his first home run as a member of the organization and his third as a big league player.

In a year where a handful of star studded prospects were making noise on the major league level, the 29-year-old infielder was making the most of his time. After splitting playing time between multiple positions on the field, he picked up majority of his starts at first base in aid of Anthony Rizzo.

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The former Cincinnati Reds third round pick of the 2006 First-Year-Player Draft finished the 2014 campaign with .231/.282/.339 line while recording career numbers. In 121 at-bats, Valaika recorded three runs, 28 hits, four doubles, three home runs, 13 RBIs and seven walks despite striking out 35 times.

Not to mention he also recorded the first stolen base of his career in a 5-3 loss against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sept. 5 – game in which he finished 3-5 with a double and one RBI.

With Valaika back with the organization, the Cubs now have multiple utility men on the Triple-A Iowa roster including Jonathan Herrera and Logan Watkins. Having those men available will definitely come in handy as prospects move throughout the system and find themselves in Iowa.

He’ll surely play a key role with the main attraction as Luis Valbuena has hit a couple bumps health wise over the last two seasons. There’s always a solid chance that Valaika ends up on the Opening Day roster depending on who else Maddon is thinking about using at third base besides Valbuena.

We seen promising prospect Mike Olt display a little bit of pop in the batters box, but he struggled more than he cleared the bleachers. Chicago’s other utility man, Arismendy Alcantara, played 51 games at third base between three minor league teams in his young career. He could be in the mix to help anchor the hot corner until the phenom out of the University of San Diego is ready for the show.

Next: Cubs Add Depth In Santiago, Teagarden, De Leon