MLB.com's Brian McTaggart writes in his latest piece about Jose Valverde's struggle to find a multi-year contract, or even a one-year deal equivalent to the $10MM salary he was likely to receive had he accepted Houston's offer of arbitration.
McTaggart describes Valverde, 30, as the latest in a tradition of arbitration-eligible players who turn down the offer, only to find the marketplace a far colder place.
Valverde's problem isn't effectiveness- he pitched to a 2.33 ERA last year as Houston's closer, and has posted better than a strikeout per inning every season he's been in the majors- but rather finding a team willing to pay him and give up a draft pick, since Valverde is one of three remaining Type A free agents who were offered arbitration (Jason Bay and Matt Holliday are the others).
McTaggart writes, "The hard truth for Valverde is that although he is the most talented and accomplished of the available closers, it may very well be that turning down arbitration from the Astros -- and the likely $10 million salary that he would have netted for 2010 -- was a bad gamble. He may end up having to accept a one-year deal anyway, as Wagner did, and potentially at significantly less than he would have made in arbitration."
The Astros moved on, signing Brandon Lyon to a three-year, $15MM deal to close. As for Valverde, his destination is still to-be-determined. If/when his price comes down, he could be one of the real bargains of the winter.