Luis Valbuena served as the Cubs’ regular third baseman last season, but he was traded to the Astros today in the Dexter Fowler deal. This means that the Cubs are ready to hand over the reigns to top prospect Kris Bryant, right? Not so fast.
According to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said earlier today that moving Valbuena doesn’t change Bryant’s timetable, whatever that might be.
“When Kris is ready, when we think he’s ready to come up to the big leagues, we’ll make that decision but certainly trading Valbuena will not speed up that clock at all,” Hoyer said. “It’s all dependent on Kris.”
You could certainly make the case that Bryant is ready right now. The 23-year-old led the minors with 43 home runs last season while batting .325/.438/.661 over 138 games between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa. Of course, it’s not that simple. Things could obviously change if Bryant forces the issue during the spring, but the Cubs figure to at least wait until late April/early May to delay his free agency clock by a year. The Cubs could turn to Mike Olt, Tommy LaStella, and possibly Arismendy Alcantara and Javier Baez at third base while they wait for Bryant.