After last year’s closer Fernando Rodney and set-up man Brandon Lyon left the Detroit Tigers to sign with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Houston Astros, the Tigers were in search of a closer. Instead of going with an in-house option like Ryan Perry, the Tigers went in a different direction.
The Tigers searched the free agent market for a closer and found Jose Valverde. According to Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports, the Tigers have signed Valverde to a two-year, $14 million contract with a $9 million option for a third year.
Since Valverde was a Type-A free agent and was offered arbitration by the Astros, Houston will receive the Tigers first round pick (19th overall) in the 2010 June Draft.
This is quite the interesting signing by the Tigers. Weren’t they poor at the beginning of the free agency period?
Wasn’t the reason they traded Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson is because they wanted to trim payroll? The Tigers couldn’t afford to keep Granderson at a respectable $5.5 million for 2010, but they could afford a closer at $7 million?
On top of spending $7 million on Valverde, the Tigers have to surrender a first round pick in next year’s draft. On the surface, financially this signing makes no sense.
On the field, I get why the Tigers signed Valverde. As a closer, he is pretty good.
He is coming off a year where he had a 2.33 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. Over the last three years, Valverde as a 2.84 ERA and has averaged 10.3 K/9. He has been one of the more consistent closers in the National League over that period.
However, Valverde did spend time on the DL last year (non-throwing arm related) and had the lowest K/9 ratio of his career at 9.3. That might be some cause for concern going into 2010.
The Tigers clearly did not feel comfortable giving the ball in the ninth inning to Ryan Perry and at this point, I don’t think they can trust Joel Zumaya to stay healthy over the course of a full season.
Again, I don’t mind the signing for what Valverde will bring on the field, but something is going on behind the scenes in Detroit where they have people like me scratching their heads.
It’s hard to sell your fans on why you traded one of your more popular players and then go ahead and sign a closer for more money than you were paying Granderson.
The Tigers have had one confusing offseason so far.
Valverde will be entering his eighth season in 2010 and has a career 3.17 ERA and 167 saves in 386 innings with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Astros.
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