The Indians had to make room on the 40-man roster for minor-league pitchers Scott Barnes and Danny Salazar and shortstop Juan Diaz in order to protect them from being claimed by another team in the Rule 5 Draft.
Valbuena, who turns 26 on November 30, hit .209/.227/.279 (39 wRC+) and posted -0.3 fWAR in 17 games with Cleveland this year. He has a .224/.283/.344 career triple-slash (65 wRC+, -1.7 fWAR) over three seasons and 211 games with the Indians while playing primarily second base.
Despite his struggles in the majors, Valbuena has been terrific in the minors. He has a .309/.387/.486 triple-slash in 221 career games at Triple-A. In 2011, he hit .302/.372/.476 with 17 homers and 75 RBI in 113 games with Columbus.
The Indians acquired Valbuena along with Joe Smith in the three-team deal that sent Franklin Gutierrez to Seattle after the 2008 season. Interestingly, Ezequiel Carrera was also part of that trade: he was part of the package that the Mets sent to the Mariners 18 months before the Mariners dealt him to the Indians.
Cleveland must release, trade, or (if no other team puts a waiver claim on him) outright Valbuena to the minors within 10 days.