Today the Chicago Cubs signed the first of their arbitration-eligible players for 2013, inking infielder Luis Valbuena to a one-year, $930,000 deal. He was eligible for arbitration for the first time.
The deadline to exchange figures isn’t until next Friday, so each of Valbuena and the Cubs must have felt like they had a pretty good gauge on his value (and I’d say this is right about it). He’ll be a utility infielder for the Cubs in 2013, spelling Darwin Barney at second from time to time, and perhaps even competing with Ian Stewart for more regular playing time at third.
Valbuena played a great deal at third for the Cubs last year after Stewart’s season was ended by his recurrent wrist problems. He played quality defense, but hit just .219/.310/.340 over 303 plate appearances. Then again, his BABIP was just .260, so there is reason to believe he could have hit quite a bit better. The Cubs have clearly liked him for a while, so we’ll see just how much work he gets next year.
The Cubs’ remaining arbitration-eligible players are Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, and James Russell.