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Angels closing in on free agent infielder Luis Valbuena

Billy Eppler’s GM resume may be adding yet another impressive signing

Oakland Athletics v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Angels appear to have made a surprise deal this afternoon, and it’s a pretty good one, at that. Late in the day, and pretty much out of the blue, word broke on Twitter that the team signed Luis Valbuena, most recently of the Houston Astros, to a two-year deal.

At the time of this writing, the deal had yet to be confirmed by the team, but the source on it is veteran Venezuelan reporter Efrain Zavarce, and it’s been checked out by the usual beat writer suspects.

Here’s his original tweet that started the rumor mill:

Basically, it’s saying the Angels have signed Luis Valbuena to a multi-year deal. The OC Register’s Jeff Fletcher found out that the “multi-year” deal in question is actually two years plus an option.

This is a pretty good signing for the Halos, as it provides some impressive depth for the infield. Valbuena is mainly a third baseman, but he can play elsewhere if needed, and with Danny Espinosa and Yunel Escobar only having one year left with the Halos, Valbuena might come in handy next season.

Over the past three seasons, Valbuena has averaged 2.1 WAR, and while he doesn’t knock your socks off with his batting average, he’s also no slouch, either. He’s also got some surprising power (he’s averaged a SLG of .442 over the last 3 seasons), and is disciplined at the plate.

His 2016 season was cut short due to a bad hamstring injury, and that may have something to do with why he was even still out there on the market. But he’s got a good glove and is versatile on the field, and he can provide a good lefty bat in the lineup, which is something the Angels can always use (he has an .817 OPS when facing righties).

I think Billy Eppler has done it again, using the resources at hand to target and acquire a piece that fits perfectly into his plan for the Angels in the near future. It’ll be interesting to see how/when Valbuena is used...could be strictly platoon, or it could open up Escobar as trade bait. Either way, I’m digging it.

Now, again, the caveat here is that nothing has been confirmed by the team, but sources for say that Valbuena is flying to Anaheim this weekend for a physical. At that point, if all goes well, I’m assumng we’ll get an official confirmation from Eppler and Co.