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Astros Hot Stove: Houston, Luis Valbuena settle in arbitration process

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The Astros have one less potential arbitration case to worry about.

Luis Valbuena had a big homer against the Royals in the ALDS. The Astros hope for more of the same in 2016.
Luis Valbuena had a big homer against the Royals in the ALDS. The Astros hope for more of the same in 2016.
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday, Jon Heyman reports that Houston has settled on a contract figure with their incumbent third baseman, Luis Valbuena.

Valbuena, who is 30 years old heading into the final year of his club control, compiled 493 plate appearances for the Astros in their turnaround 2015 season, mashing a career-high 25 home runs after joining the club. Though his BAbip drooped significantly, the boost in power and a fair walk rate helped him post a solid 105 wRC+. The $6,125,000 he will earn is just a bit more than the $5,800,000 estimate that MLB Trade Rumors gave.

When the Astros sent Dexter Fowler to the Chicago Cubs prior to the 2015 season, they hoped to secure a solid power bat and a steady glove at the hot corner, presumably to bridge the gap to Colin Moran, and Valbuena delivered that. Though susceptible to left-handed pitching, Valbuena figures to earn the lion's share of the playing time at the hot corner again in 2016, perhaps in a platoon that may include Marwin Gonzalez and/or Matt Duffy, at least until Houston feels Moran or perhaps even Alex Bregman is ready.

The Astros have five other players going through the arbitration process, who are projected to earn some $17 million combined in 2016.