Will Luis Valbuena Be Back to Finish What he Started with the Houston Astros?
With the 2016 season coming to an end, the Houston Astros must consider their options in regards to free agents. We all know Colby Rasmus and Jason Castro are both two players the Astros must put a lot of thought into, but what about Luis Valbuena? Eric Huysman doesn’t see Rasmus returning in 2017.
Valbuena, or Valbooma, depending on who you ask, had a productive 2016 season cut short by a hamstring injury. He was batting .260, with 13 home runs and 40 RBIs. Most notably, picking up steam as the team entered the All-Star break. It was tough timing for the injury, as the Astros were building momentum.
Things to Consider
The issue that comes to mind is very simple: what do you do with Valbuena? With the emergence of Alex Bregman and the signing of Yulieski Gurriel, it becomes tough to picture Valbuena having a home in Houston for the 2017 campaign. Bregman has shown great ability at third base and a strong bat, which is hard to remove from any line-up.
Gurriel has also shown great hitting capabilities and being a third baseman in Cuba, could play the hot corner as well. Valbuena has played first base in the past, but with Marwin Gonzalez playing well and flashing more productivity at the plate, it is not readily available for anyone.
The boys at Talking Stros talked about this on this week’s show.
What He has to Offer
Valbuena is a left-handed hitter, can play the corners, and is a big hitter at times. He is a formidable opponent when having to pitch to him. His bat offers depth to the lineup, and that allows other players like Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Evan Gattis with a chance to see more pitches. It is possible that Valbuena becomes the designated hitter, and assume this role when Gattis catches.
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He can also assume this role when a left-handed hitter is more useful. He is also capable of playing the corners, which allows for greater depth on the defensive side of the ball. As much versatility as the Astros have, it is possible that these players, including Valbuena, will work in shifts, and a push to keep everyone rested and healthy will be a big part of the 2017 campaign.
Not so Fast Valbuena
What does not bode well for Valbuena, is the lackluster results the Astros have gotten from other free agency signings, such as Colby Rasmus and the acquisition of Carlos Gomez. Although we cannot compare them entirely, it has shown that shelling out the big bucks does not always pay off. However, Valbuena’s previous contract signing was for one year worth 6.125 million dollars. He played well and justified the value of his contract.
All in all, only time will tell on the fate of Valbooma. No matter the decision, it is not an easy one. It would be a loss not to have him on the roster next season. However, the cost to keep Valbuena must coincide with the plans the Astros have in motion to improve for the 2017 season.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***