Detroit Tigers Find Their Closer, Sign Jose Valverde

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.

Valverde will be closing for the Tigers in 2010

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.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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2 Responses to “Detroit Tigers Find Their Closer, Sign Jose Valverde”

  1. Paul Says:

    I couldn’t disagree more with your assessment that the Tigers were simply trimming payroll. If that were the case, Miguel Cabrera would be headed elsewhere, and they would not be looking to sign Justin Verlander to a multi-year deal. Likewise, Carols Guillen and Magglio Ordonez would be wearing different uniforms this year as well. Yes, Granderson was one of, if not the most popular player, but he was far from their best player. He did hit a lot of home runs, mostly against right handed pitchers, but against lefthanders he became a gigantic hole in the batting order. This was more a case of a team dealing a popular and somewhat attractive player and adding several other pieces that could become important cogs in the lineup. There are a few scouts who have stated they believe that the Tigers got the better part of this deal. We won’t know until the season unfolds, but I, for one, am excited that Dave Dombrowski took a chance to make this team a little younger and, hopefully, a little better. If you look at this trade with your eyes and not your heart, it does have the potential to be a steal.

  2. Mike McNamara Says:

    The trading of Granderson and Jackson got rid of payroll and gave the Tigers four potential major leaguers. Austin Jackson was the guy everybody wanted when trade winds involved the Yankees. Granderson was beloved by the Tiger faithful, but many of his at-bats resulted in disappointment for those who cheered.
    The Tigers appear to have two solid starters (Verlander and Porcello) and could have a solid number three if Bonderman is healthy. (I know its a big if.)
    But the problem was watching other teams praying to get at the Tigers’ bullpen. Despite Rodney’s stats (there are lies, damn lies and statistics) he scared many of us. I was always wondering who which Rodney was coming in from the pen. I tell you, I didn’t give him any respect.
    The Tigers new closer is a welcome relief, no pun intended.
    Now what to do with Guillen? He won’t be happy as the DH and he’s a liabilty in the field. If the Tigers could trade him for some value, I believe both the Tigers and Guillen would be winners.
    So the bottom line is this . . . in 2010 the Tigers (with all the new faces) will be a better team, and will be able to hang on that last day of the season and win the division.

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