This offseason holds many possibilities for the Astros at numerous positions.
There will surely be no lack of rumors floating around Minute Maid Park in the coming weeks and months. And rest assured that the Astros will be looking around externally to find help for the roster.
But should the team retain an internal option to help shore the roster?
By internal option, I mean someone like Luis Valbuena. The infielder who can in theory transition from third base to first base and/or designated hitter.
There are numerous reasons why the Astros should be interested in retaining the veteran infielder. The after mentioned versatility he can obviously provide is one of them.
Even though Alex Bregman and Yulieski Gurriel figure to be contributors on the active roster next season, there is still a need for a first baseman and occasional designated hitter. Enter Valbuena, who is primarily a third baseman that can also cover multiple positions in a pinch. Think of him as a more powerful version of Marwin Gonzalez.
Power is another reason to keep Valbuena around for at least a couple more years.
For example, Valbuena has hit 38 home runs since the Astros acquired him in an offseason trade with the Chicago Cubs nearly two years ago. And he has provided the team with an unexpected force when the lineup sputtered. First base or third base, it doesn’t really seem to matter for Valbuena. And designated hitter may have an opening with Evan Gattis now figured to catch even more so next season.
Sure, he won’t hit for a high average or get on-base at a terrific clip. But when you consider his power then you can live with that aspect of his game.
The question can now become whether the Astros can actually resign Valbuena. And to warn you, he won’t come cheap.
There will be numerous teams looking at the veteran infielder to see if he would be a fit in their lineup. Large dollar offers are surely coming his way. Valbuena’s future annual salary will surely exceed his 2016 figure of $6.125 million. And that alone may deter Houston from entering the fray.
Losing a bat like his in the Astros lineup though would surely hurt in the short term. After all, there is no guarantee that A.J. Reed or Tyler White can step up and provide the same level of production in 2017. The hope is that they could. But hope doesn’t always translate into results.
At the end of the day, I’m sure the Astros would like to have Valbuena back. His versatility and power with the bat is welcomed. But between the infield logjam and money then the team may decide to sit this one out.
**Statistics provided by Baseball Reference**