Veteran infielder Luis Valbuena is still searching for a landing spot in free agency after slugging 66 home runs over the past four years.

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Orioles Show Fringe Interest In Valbuena

Friday, Jan. 6

Jerry Crasnick of reported Friday that the Baltimore Orioles have discussed the idea of signing Valbuena. He noted that the organization’s biggest need is in the outfield, however, and that’s an area where the 31-year-old Venezuela native has only four games of experience in the majors.

Valbuena was on pace to have his best season to date in 2016 before a hamstring injury brought a premature end to his campaign in August. His .260 batting average and .816 OPS were both career highs, and he tallied 13 homers in 90 games for the Houston Astros.

Angel Verdejo Jr. of the Houston Chronicle noted the versatile infielder was focused on his recovery and not the potential offseason impact after suffering the injury setback.

“I have to get ready and see what happens,” Valbuena said.

He started his career with the Seattle Mariners in 2008 and then spent three years apiece with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs before ending up in Houston in 2015. In all, he owns a career .232/.317/.394 triple-slash line in 798 games.

His impact has increased over the past handful of years. Along with the aforementioned 66 home runs, he’s tallied 184 RBI and 202 runs scored since the start of the 2013 campaign.

In turn, it’s a bit surprising he hasn’t generated more interest. Crasnick previously linked him to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post noted that the New York Yankees reached out to Valbuena’s representatives in early December. But his market has been mostly cold since.

The Orioles are basically set on the infield, barring any injuries. While they do have a possible opening in right field, Valbuena has never played there at the pro level. Designated hitter is also an option, but Baltimore likely doesn’t want to block prospect Trey Mancini for an extended period of time.

Ultimately, Valbuena may be forced to accept a shorter-term contract than he originally anticipated with hope of proving himself and then reentering the market in 2018 or 2019. If so, he could provide some nice bang for the buck as a late-offseason signing.


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