Update, January 24: The deal has been finalized. It’ll be for two years at $15 million. Valbuena will receive $6.5 million in 2017 and $8.5 million in 2018. A mutual option is attached for 2019 with a $200,000 dollar buyout. And in case fans are wondering, the Angels are now $12 million under the luxury tax. The corresponding move was the Blue Jays claiming catcher Juan Graterol, who has been claimed five times this offseason, twice by the Halos.
As if the Angels didn’t have enough outfielders already, the club inked Luis Valbuena last Thursday. The deal is for two years, but the club has yet to announce the signing, and details are not being disclosed due to a scheduled physical as well as the reported anonymity of the source. All those tidbits are supposed to be hashed out by the end of this week.
In the meantime, however, it’s safe to say the Halos have found what they’re looking for in terms of filling holes in their starting lineup and bench. Bringing experience at first base, second base, and third base, the lefty bat who started with the Mariners, and then had three-year stops with the Indians, Cubs. and Astros, will likely complement Yunel Escobar at third base, and will fill in the gaps between CJ Cron, Danny Espinosa, and the games they miss.
And since Albert Pujols might miss the first month of the season, Luis would get everyday playing time through that time. The Machine’s status is what has actually been driving General Manager Billy Eppler’s activity over the last month or so.
Adding to the suspense, the moment this singing broke out speculation surrounding a possible trade of Cron for young starting pitching began to surface. The question would be whether he’d be dealt before or during the season. That remains to be seen.
Either way, with averages of .233 / .334 / .442 and a 114 OPS+ over the last three years, Valbuena brings much depth, patience, and pop to the Halos infield. Not only that, he brings yet another good glove. Pitching should still be addressed, but the offense is looking like it may be a lot of fun to watch in 2017.
LA Angels Insider will have the details of the signing upon the finalizing of the contract after the results of the physical.