The Market For Jose Valverde

Jose Valverde and Juan Cruz have a lot in common. The two relievers were born within months of each other in the same country; they both pile up big strikeout totals; they even anchored Arizona's bullpen together for a couple seasons. Now Valverde's Type A status is limiting interest from potential suitors, just as Cruz's did a year ago.

Valverde has struck out over a batter per inning every year of his major league career, so he'd be a difference maker in any bullpen. The only season in which he has allowed more hits than innings pitched came in 2006 when he surrendered 50 hits in 49.1 innings. His fastball has been extremely effective and consistently hits the upper nineties.

The 31-year-old right-hander is one of the top free agents available, but he hasn't generated much buzz this offseason, partly because he'll cost teams a high draft pick. He could return to the D'Backs, who are keeping an eye on him, and it's too early in the winter to rule out a surprise bidder, but so far the market doesn't appear to have developed.

The Marlins, Pirates and Tigers could use closers, but as ESPN.com's Buster Olney recently pointed out, those three teams seem unlikely to spend big on Valverde or any other reliever. Plus, Valverde would cost the Tigers and Marlins their first round picks and the Pirates would have to give up a second rounder to sign him. The Nationals and Orioles were connected to Valverde earlier in the month, but they've moved on and signed Matt Capps and Mike Gonzalez, respectively.

The market for Valverde doesn't look good now, but there's some hope for him: Cruz did sign a multi-year deal in the end.


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