Today, the Chicago Cubs claimed infielder Luis Valbuena off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays. Valbuena, 26, was out of options, and the Blue Jays were probably trying to stash him at AAA. As you can see, Valbuena hasn’t had much offensive success in the bigs, but he’s almost always put up excellent numbers in the high minors.
The Cubs do have an open spot on the 40-man roster, so adding Valbuena isn’t a problem right now, but there are two things I’m trying to sort out: (1) several guys still have to be added to the 40-man, including Blake DeWitt, Joe Mather, Rodrigo Lopez, and another reliever, at a minimum. That’s four spots that would then have to be opened up (three, if you count Frankie De La Cruz as already off the 40-man, which he will be); (2) if Valbuena is out of options, and the Cubs claimed him, are they putting him on the 25-man roster to open the year? Given that he can play shortstop, it would be nice to have him on the bench, but who then gets the boot? Blake DeWitt? Is Jeff Baker being traded? Some other trade?
It’s hard to say what this might be the precursor to. But it certainly feels like a precursor (even if not a hugely important precursor).
I’ll update this post as the immediate implications become more clear.
UPDATE: Wow – according to Carrie Muskat, the plan is to start the season with just 11 pitchers (6-man pen, as opposed to 7, which has become customary). I’m fine with adding Valbuena, and I’m glad to have a true back-up middle-infielder on the roster, but the bullpen isn’t exactly deep as it is. Now we’re just waiting to see who actually makes the pen.