Central Notes: Tigers, Cubs, Rondon, Valverde

The Tigers would love to lock Justin Verlander up for the long-term, but it may take a while for the two sides to find middle ground.  The right-hander says that he wants to become baseball's first $200MM pitcher and also says that he is intrigued by the idea of free agency.  While it's certainly a priority for Detroit, Verlander won't be a free agent until after the 2014 season.  In the short-term, they have other questions to answer.  Here's more on the Tigers and other notes out of the Central divisions..

  • Tigers manager Jim Leyland remains interested in bringing Jose Valverde back as a safety net but the money still isn't good enough to facilitate a return, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The veteran would serve as insurance against rookie Bruce Rondon, who is slated to take over the role of closer in 2013.
  • Lynn Henning of the Detroit News believes Leyland is scared that Rondon isn't ready to make the leap just yet.  If the Tigers can't come to terms with Valverde and Rondon struggles, GM Dave Dombrowski may have to start exploring the trade market for ninth inning options.
  • Cubs players recognize that Theo Epstein & Co. may look to sell off valuable pieces at the deadline this year, but they're hoping to play well enough to prevent that from happening, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.  "That’s not what our plan is," right-hander Jeff Samardzija said. "Our plan is to put them in a situation — a tough situation — on what they want to do halfway through the year. . . . If we’re doing our job and winning ballgames, then they’re going to have a tough decision on what they want to do."

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