Luis Valbuena, who played with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2018, and Jose Castillo, who last played in the majors in 2008, were killed in an automobile crash after leaving their Venezuelan winter league (Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional) game early Friday morning.
As per Carlos Valmore Rodriguez and Andriw Sanchez Ruiz of BeisbolPlay, the vehicle they were traveling in “could not dodge a stone placed in the road”, adding that “a preliminary report from the authorities at the site presumes that the rock was thrown on the road, a common modus operandi to perpetrate highway robberies.”
The governor of the state of Yaracuy, where the accident occurred, tweeted on Friday afternoon that “we have achieved the detention of four individuals” who were in possession of both players’ personal belongings after the crash.
As per Maria Torres, Angels beat writer for the Los Angeles Times, former major-leaguer Carlos Rivero, also a passenger in the vehicle, and the driver survived the crash, “but Castillo and Valbuena were ejected from the vehicle and died”, adding that neither were wearing seatbelts.
Valbuena, 33, was signed by the Seattle Mariners in 2002 as a sixteen-year-old, eventually making his MLB debut for the M’s in 2008 before being traded to Cleveland that winter in a three-way deal that brought Sean Green, J.J. Putz, and Jeremy Reed to the Mets.
After spending three seasons with the Indians, three with the Cubs, and two in Houston, Valbuena signed as a free agent with the Angels in January 2017.
Castillo, 37, spent four seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates after making his debut for the club in 2004. He split the 2008 season between the San Francisco Giants and the Astros.
We’ll keep you updated as more information about the investigation becomes available.