Boston Red Sox trade target: Luis Valbuena


If there’s one offensive position that the Red Sox will look to improve this offseason, it’s almost certainly third base. Most are quick to point out free agents Pablo Sandoval and Chase Headley as two major targets for the Red Sox but with those two the only legitimate starting third basemen on the market, the bidding could get out of hand fast. Should the Red Sox be unwilling to acquire Sandoval or Headley on a big-time contract, they could explore the trade market and Luis Valbuena of the Chicago Cubs represents an intriguing, under-the-radar possibility for Boston.

Once a highly-touted prospect for the Mariners, Valbuena has taken a while to come around at the Major League level, never even reaching replacement level from 2008-2011. However, he turned in a solid season for the Cubs at age 28 this season, slashing .249/.341/.435, good for a 114 OPS+, with 16 home runs and playing in 149 games.

Normally, a player like Valbuena– a solid, if unspectacular power threat– would be a good complementary player for a team like the Cubs to rebuild with, but with Chicago’s stash of young infielders, headlined by Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and Addison Russell, Valbuena could be an expendable piece this offseason.

Since 2014 was Valbuena’s only above-average season so far, he wouldn’t cost nearly as much as Headley or Sandoval, as the Red Sox could likely land him for a prospect at the back end of their top ten. However, Valbuena is right in the middle of his prime, left-handed, plays good defense, and displays the good plate discipline and power that the Red Sox covet, all tools that the team will be seeking from potential third basemen.

Valbuena would not be a sexy addition for the Red Sox but there’s a good chance that he’d bring significantly more bang-for-the-buck than Headley or Sandoval. He would add one more solid hitter to deepen the lineup, with the added benefit of being left-handed and playing a position of need for the Red Sox. Headley and Sandoval should still slot ahead of him on Boston’s wish list, as both are more proven commodities, but if their respective costs rise too high, then Valbuena is an excellent dark-horse candidate for next year’s third base job.