Luis Valbuena and Dan Straily
May 13, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros third baseman Luis Valbuena (18) bats in the eighth inning agains the San Francisco Giants at Minute Maid Park. Astros won 4 to 3. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Because Luhnow knew that the Astros could get Colby Rasmus to sign by trading Fowler to free up the money, Luhnow felt like the two deals happened simultaneously. “We were able to turn Fowler plus some cash for into Colby Rasmus, Luis Valbuena, and Dan Straily.”
Luhnow was able to get someone to compete with Matt Dominguez at third base. Luhnow was discussing how everyone was getting excited predicting all the home runs each player would hit, and he made an interesting comment. “Valbuena would hit 15 home runs and Dominguez would hit 15 home runs if they share that role.”
He was also able to get a candidate for the rotation with serious rebound potential with the instruction that the Astros coaches offer in Dan Straily.
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It’s funny how the Astros thought that Dominguez and Valbuena would be platoon partners, but Dominguez did the Astros a favor by not showing up in spring training. Valbuena played great defense at third base while hitting nine home runs and 15 home runs. Despite leading the club in homers, the rest of his slash line is unimpressive .205/ .269/.447/ .716. The only stat that salvaged Valbuena’s stat line is he slugging percentage with the nine homers. (Stats from Baseball-Reference)
Valbuena has been streaky so far this year at the plate but has remained consistent on defense, which has lead to the great record. When Valbuena makes contact, the ball goes really far. However overall, he needs to make better contact at the plate to avoid the unproductive pop-up that he falls victim to. Valbuena has struck out 33 times in 145 plate appearances on the season, which is a 23% strikeout rate.
Dan Straily has been very unimpressive at Triple-A, is viewed as a depth option, but has not gotten the call despite the many needs for a starting pitcher. The Astros continue to have issues with a 5th spot in the rotation, but the Astros have reached Double-A to call upon a rookie pitcher to make his debut instead of Straily.
Meanwhile, Fowler has a slash line of .275/ .357/ .420/ .777 with the Cubs while hitting three homers and ten RBI’s. (Stats from Baseball-Reference)
The Astros had a desperate need for third base with Matt Dominguez’s regression in 2014. The Astros system is loaded with outfielders, so Fowler was expendable to the Astros. While I’m not sure Valbuena is the long-term answer at third base, he has been a good pickup for the 2015 Astros. I would give the Astros an B for this trade because he has filled in a need this season.
Next: Colby Rasmus