In a surprise move, the Angels announced that they’ve designated corner infielder Luis Valbuena for assignment. To take his 25-man roster spot, the team recalled right-hander Deck McGuire from Triple-A Salt Lake.
Prior to his ouster, Valbuena had been two months from completing the two-year, $15MM guarantee the Angels awarded him as a free agent before last season. The deal also comes with an $8.5MM mutual option for 2019, but given his poor production in their uniform, the Angels would have bought him out for $500K instead. While the Angels will now have a week to find a taker for Valbuena via trade, that seems unlikely to happen. Instead, it’s fair to guess that the 32-year-old will clear waivers and end up back on the free-agent market soon after that.
Valbuena, who’s on an $8MM salary this year, has hit a horrid .199/.253/.335 with nine home runs and a .135 ISO in 288 plate appearances in 2018. He also batted .199 over 401 PAs in 2017, though Valbuena still offered far better overall production than he has this year, as he posted a .294 on-base percentage, a .432 slugging percentage, 22 homers and a .233 ISO. During what amounted to nearly a two-year run in Anaheim, Valbuena slashed .199/.277/.390 in 689 PAs.
The lefty-swinging Valbuena had been an above-average offensive player earlier in his career, which led the Angels to hand him a sizable payday. From 2013-16, which he divided between the Cubs and Astros, Valbuena hit .237/.333/.428 (112 wRC+) with 66 homers, a .191 ISO and respectable walk (12.0) and strikeout (20.5) percentages in 1,773 PAs.