Former major league infielders Luis Valbuena, who played for the Cubs from 2012 to 2014, and Jose Castillo were both killed in a car accident in Venezuela this evening. Valbuena was 33 and Castillo was 37.
The two players playing winter ball in their native Venezuela when their car hit a rock that had rolled on to the road. Driving the car was another teammate, Carlos Rivero, who played four games for the Red Sox in 2014. There is no word on Rivero’s condition at the moment.
Valbuena played eleven years in the majors and three of them were with the Cubs from 2012 to 2014. The Cubs had claimed him on waivers from the Indians before the 2012 season and he would end up playing 347 games for the Cubs over the next three seasons, hitting .232/.330/.394. with 32 home runs and 116 RBI. His best season was 2014 when he played 149 games and hit .249/.341/.435 with 16 home runs. He was a bit of a fan favorite during that dark period at Wrigley Field, but Cubs fans may remember him best for what happened after that season when he was traded to Houston for Dexter Fowler.
Valbuena played for the Angels in 2018 until he was released in August. He certainly hadn’t retired and was no doubt hoping to catch on with a new team this spring.
Castillo played five years in the majors from 2004 to 2008, most of them with the Pirates. Castillo finished his career in with the Giants and Astros. He hit .254/.296/.379 over 592 career games. His best season was 2006 when he played 148 games for Pittsburgh, mostly at second base, and hit .253/.299/.382 with 14 home runs and 65 RBI.
As always, these tragic stories happen all too often in baseball these days. Our condolences go out the his family, friends and former teammates.
We will update this article if and when new information becomes available.