Perhaps the biggest, and most universally praised, move that Billy Eppler’s Office of the GM made this past offseason was the acquisition of Luis Valbuena. The former Astros player would provide some help at 1B, 3B and even 2B, if need be, along with giving the Halos another potent bat in the lineup.
On top of that, he added a lot of flexibility to their roster, in terms of pure lineup construction, but also in terms of what moves they could do in order to pick up...oh, I don’t know...some starting pitching, perhaps? With a guy like Valbuena on the team, that gives the Angels some options if they want to explore a trade involving someone like C.J. Cron or Yunel Escobar.
The one rub with the Luis Valbuena acquisition? We’ve yet to see him in 2017. Valbuena was dinged up in spring training, and therefore had to take some time off, unable to be on the Opening Day roster. He’s spent the last week with the Inland Empire 66ers, though, for his rehab assignment, and today, the team gave word that he’s finally ready to make his Halos regular season debut:
Today the #Angels reinstated INF Luis Valbuena from the DL and optioned RHP Jose Valdez to Triple-A @SaltLakeBees.— Angels (@Angels) May 2, 2017
With C.J. Cron on the 10-day DL, this comes as welcome news, not to mention it could lead to less Cliff Pennington in the lineup (those days are the worst). Valbuena is coming in hot from Inland Empire, going 8-23 (.348 AVG, .853 OPS, .375 OBP) with three doubles in his six-game rehab stint.
With Valbuena in the lineup, this will finally be the complete Angels offense/defense that Eppler envisioned over the winter, and let’s hope that he brings that extra-base lumber and on-base expertise to the team, just like we’d all been expecting since news of the move broke back in January.