Luis Valbuena should be high priority on Braves trade wish list

Kevin C. Cox

Valbuena continues to be very productive for the Cubs, who are looking to add young talent to their organization.

The Braves' bench has been awful all season long, and trading for a guy like Luis Valbuena would do wonders for the club. With the trade deadline just a few weeks away, it's time to start identifying some potential trade candidates.

Valbuena, 28 and making just $1.7 million this season, is one of the more underrated utility guys in baseball. He's reliable at second and third base, and could probably handle shortstop or the outfield in a pinch. He's hitting .261/.347/.429 on the season with five homers, 22 RBI and a 114 wRC+*. He walks a lot (11.8% in 2014, 10.2% career) and has recently turned into a line-drive machine. He's been a 3-WAR player over his last 162 games.

*An average wRC+ is about 95-100.

His fit in Atlanta would be a pretty obvious one.

Valbuena, who bats left-handed, is hitting .260/.345/.441 against righties with a 117 wRC+. Chris Johnson is locked into third base for at least a few more seasons thanks to that dumb contract extension, and he has been awful against righties this year with a .255/.266/.323 line and 63 wRC+. CJ also has a 1.7% walk ratio against righties and strikes out one-fourth of the time against them. And his glove remains mediocre.

I'm not suggesting a straight platoon with Valbuena and Johnson, but it would be nice to have options at third base. Valbuena could also get regular reps at second base, splitting time with Tommy La Stella. He would also be a nice left-handed piece for Fredi Gonzalez to utilize late in games off the bench, whether it be as a pinch-hitter or defensive replacement. He's a whole lot better than anything else on the bench right now.

Trading for Valbuena wouldn't grab too many national headlines, but it would be a very solid addition for Frank Wren to make for the playoff push and beyond.

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