Luis Valbuena could be the Cubs’ starting third baseman

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Third base has become an increasingly difficult position to fill properly. As an example, Juan Uribe has earned the biggest contract at the position this off-season, recieving $15 million over two years from the Dodgers. As a result, the Cubs may end up having to give their starting third base job to Luis Valbuena, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com suggests.

Valbuena has a career .654 OPS but posted a .708 mark in 2013 along with 12 home runs in 391 trips to the plate. He got the lion’s share of the playing time at the position last season. The Cubs’ other option is Mike Olt but he struggled with Triple-A Iowa after coming over to the Cubs from the Rangers in the Matt Garza trade.

Padres acquire Phil Hughes from Twins

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Twins right-hander Phil Hughes is headed to the Padres, according to announcements from both teams on Sunday. The Padres will also receive the 74th overall draft pick and cash considerations from the Twins, who are getting minor league catcher Janigson Villalobos in return. Minnesota is expected to absorb $7.5 million of Hughes’ $22 million contract; per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, they’ll take on his remaining salary for the 2018 season and pay an additional $5.7 million in 2019.

Hughes, 31, is far from the 16-win, sub-4.00 ERA hurler the Twins enjoyed in 2014. He hasn’t pitched more than 60 innings in any season since 2015, due in part to multiple bouts of back stiffness and shoulder surgeries. He was designated for assignment last week after missing significant time with a left oblique strain and delivering a 6.75 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 6.0 SO/9 through his first 12 innings of 2018.

Villalobos, meanwhile, will provide the Twins with some depth as he continues to work his way through the minor league system. The 21-year-old backstop recently completed a circuit with the Padres’ rookie-level affiliate in the Arizona League, slashing .275/.367/.388 with eight extra bases and a .755 OPS in 98 PA.

The real get for the Padres isn’t Hughes (even with much of his salary already accounted for), but the Competitive Balance B selection in next week’s amateur draft. As MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell points out, the club lost their second-round pick after inking Eric Hosmer to a massive eight-year, $144 million deal back in February.