Jose Valverde Rumors
THURSDAY: Parnell tells Rubin that team doctors have told him there's a 50-50 chance that he will require Tommy John surgery. Parnell adds that he might not wait the full six weeks described by Alderson yesterday and could have an answer within two weeks. He would like to have the surgery sooner rather than later, if necessary, in order to be ready as early as possible in 2015.
WEDNESDAY: Because the tear occurred in a thicker part of the ligament, Parnell may be able to avoid a Tommy John procedure, GM Sandy Alderson told reporters, including ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin (links to Twitter). Parnell will go through a program to see if he can stay free of surgery, with a final determination in six weeks time.
In the meantime, Alderson said the club will "continue to monitor" free agent relievers but will wait to see how "things shake out" with his current options before making any moves.
TUESDAY: One day into the season, the Mets are already facing the prospect of an extended absence for their closer, as the team announced that Bobby Parnell has an incomplete tear of the medial collateral ligament in his right elbow (All links to Twitter). Parnell will be shut down completely for two weeks and has already received a platelet-rich plasma injection in the elbow, but surgery is a possible outcome. In the wake of the injury, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets that the Mets "will consider all options," including veteran free agent relievers.
The free agent market contains three names that come with significant experience as a Major League closer; Ryan Madson, Joel Hanrahan and Kevin Gregg are all unsigned, though Madson and Hanrahan are each working their way back from arm injuries (Frank Francisco is also available, but for the time being, I'll assume that ill-fated matchup won't be revisited). As Martino notes in the aforementioned tweet, New York watched Hanrahan throw this winter but didn't elect to send scouts to Madson's showcase.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that D'Backs right-hander J.J. Putz is "very available" in trades, but he points out that the Mets have already tried that avenue as well in the past (the results were less than spectacular). Sherman hears from scouts that Putz isn't throwing well, and beyond that is the fact that he's set to earn $7MM this season. In a second tweet, he speculates that the Mets won't react by making a big move; the team didn't prioritize the position in the offseason and overvaluing the closer's role isn't GM Sandy Alderson's way, Sherman opines.
For the time being, Jose Valverde will step into the ninth inning for the Mets. After signing a minor league deal this offseason, Valverde had a solid Spring Training and worked 1 1/3 scoreless innings in his first game with the Mets yesterday, including the escape of an inherited bases-loaded jam. The Parnell injury has potentially lucrative ramifications for Valverde, who can reportedly earn up to $1.5MM on top of his $1MM salary based on appearances and games finished (full breakdown here).
Alderson tells Marc Carig of Newsday that a move to the bullpen for Jenrry Mejia isn't an option (Twitter link). Other internal options for the Mets could include Jeurys Familia, Vic Black (though he struggled mightily in Spring Training) and Kyle Farnsworth. For further updates on Parnell and other closer-related news throughout the season, you can follow @closernews on Twitter.
Between now and Opening Day, several minor league signees will win jobs with their clubs and earn 40-man roster spots. Here are today's additions:
- Reliever Jose Valverde will make the Mets Opening Day roster, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPN.com. The 36-year-old will occupy a 40-man slot. Last year, in 19 1/3 innings with the Tigers, Valverde threw to a 5.59 ERA. But he allowed only three earned runs in nine innings this spring, and more importantly struck out seven against just one walk.
- The Indians have informed reliever Scott Atchison that he will be on the Opening Day roster, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer reports on Twitter. Accordingly, Atchison will need to be placed on the club's 40-man. The soon-to-be 38-year-old was non-tendered by the Mets before hooking on with Cleveland on a minor league deal. He had a strong spring, allowing just two runs and one walk in eight innings while striking out eight batters.
SUNDAY: Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets the breakdown of Valverde's performance bonuses: $75K for appearing in 40, 45, and 50 games; $100K for appearing in 55, 60, and 65 games; $100K for finishing 30 and 35 games; $250K for finishing 40 and 45 games; and $300K for finishing 50 games. Valverde also has a March 26 opt-out, tweets Sherman.
WEDNESDAY, 10:51am: Valverde can also earn up to $1.5MM in performance bonuses, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link).
9:11am: The Mets have signed right-hander Jose Valverde to a minor league deal that contains an invitation to Major League Spring Training, the team announced on Twitter. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports (also via Twitter) that the Praver/Shapiro client will earn $1MM if he makes the club.
This marks the second former closer that the Mets have signed to a minor league deal in the past week, as the club has also invited Kyle Farnsworth to camp. Valverde is the more accomplished closer of the two, but his recent struggled are well-documented. "Papa Grande" posted a 3.00 ERA with 7.9 K/9, 4.1 BB/9 and 110 saves for the Tigers from 2010-12. However, he began to unravel late in the 2012 season and in the 2012 playoffs. He would eventually return to Detroit in May 2013, briefly solidifying the closer role before allowing six home runs in eight appearances. The end result was a 5.59 ERA that caused the Tigers to designate Valverde for assignment.
Valverde adds another experienced arm to the Mets' bullpen depth, and he'll try to break camp with the team in order to join a bullpen that figures to be headlined by Bobby Parnell and young flamethrower Vic Black.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
10:25am: Valverde told Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes that he does not have a deal with the Diamondbacks and has recently switched agents. Formerly with Scott Boras, he is now represented by Praver/Shapiro (Spanish Twitter links).
With this deal, the 36-year-old Valverde returns to the organization that signed him as an international free agent in 1997. "Papa Grande" spent the first five seasons of his career with the Diamondbacks (2003-07), leading the National League with 47 saves in his final season there. He was then traded to the Astros for Chris Burke, J.C. Gutierrez and Chad Qualls that offseason.
Most recently, Valverde is known for his work with the Tigers. Valverde posted a 3.00 ERA with 7.9 K/9, 4.1 BB/9 and 110 saves from 2010-12. However, he began to unravel late in the 2012 season and in the 2012 playoffs. He would eventually return to the Tigers in May 2013, briefly solidifying the closer role before allowing six home runs in eight appearances. The end result was a 5.59 ERA that caused the Tigers to designate Valverde for assignment.
As Day Three of the Winter Meetings in Orlando comes to a close, plenty of free agents are still seeking new teams. Here are the latest updates on a few of them:
- Rockies people tell Troy Renck of the Denver Post (Twitter link) that nothing has changed with Nelson Cruz. There's interest in the free agent outfielder, but it's not being characterized as serious at this point.
- The Mariners have been ardent Cruz pursuers from the start of the winter, and one baseball source tells Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com they'll continue to be in the mix for him even after adding Robinson Cano, Corey Hart, and Logan Morrison.
- Teams believe reliever Joaquin Benoit's likeliest destinations are the Indians, Padres, Mariners, Cubs, or Yankees, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.
- Agent Scott Boras says client Jose Valverde, who turns 36 in March, intends to continue his big league career and has drawn interest from two big league teams, writes James Schmehl of MLive.com. The Tigers released their former closer in August after his Triple-A reboot didn't go as well as he hoped.
- Earlier in the evening, assistant GM Bobby Evans expressed optimism that San Francisco would find a left fielder by trade or free agency by the day's end, with Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com naming Franklin Gutierrez as a candidate. However, the Giants no longer expect resolution on their left field situation tonight, says Baggarly (via Twitter). The CSN Bay Area scribe also takes a more in-depth look at some of the club's options.
- Catcher Kurt Suzuki is talking with the Rockies, Cubs, and Twins, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The Tigers have unconditionally released former closer Jose Valverde, the team announced on Twitter. The 35-year-old Valverde had previously accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Toledo as he looked to regain his form after being designated for assignment at the end of June.
In 11 innings at Toledo, Valverde picked up seven saves with a 4.09 ERA, 10 strikeouts and six walks. While not stellar numbers, it's an improvement from the 5.59 ERA he posted in 19 1/3 innings as the Tigers' closer earlier this season. Valverde's return to the ninth inning for the Tigers started well, but over his final 7 1/3 innings he surrendered six homers, resulting in 11 runs and his subsequent DFA.
THURSDAY: Valverde has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Toledo, according to Tigers manager of media relations Rick Thompson (on Twitter).
The 35-year-old Valverde returned to the Tigers following the start of the season and stepped into the closer's role admirably. He converted six of his first seven save opportunities, allowing one run over the course of 12 innings in that time. Over his past 7 1/3 innings, however, Valverde has allowed 11 runs on the strength of six homers.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland recently said that Joaquin Benoit would handle the majority of the closing duties, but shied away from officially naming Benoit the team's closer (MLB.com's Jason Beck reporting on Twitter).
The Tigers are eight games above .500, feature a powerful lineup and dominant rotation, and seem as good or better than last year's World Series entrant. According to Fangraphs, Detroit projects to finish with the second-best record in baseball. But the team has one much-discussed weakness: the back of the bullpen. Long rumored to be exploring trade options to fill the closer role, the Tigers will generate even more discussion given the team's recent shedding of incumbent Jose Valverde and the approaching trade deadline. Here are a few notes on that and other topics:
- Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski insists that, in spite of designating Valverde for assignment, the team "still think[s] he can close games for us." As Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press reports, the team hopes Valverde will clear waivers and accept an assignment to Triple-A.
- In the same piece, Sharp offers that the true purpose of Dombrowski's supportive words is to position the club on the trade market. According to Sharp, Dombrowski is confident that the team can take the division even if it bides its time solving its 9th-inning dilemna. By playing it slow, then, the GM is trying to avoid being forced to overpay for a big-name arm well in advance of the trade deadline.
- While the closer role will always get more attention, the Tigers are also looking for better consistency amongst their setup men. The club recently recalled Al Alburquerque, who has dominating stuff but struggles to control it. In his first outing since returning to the big club, his control issues featured prominently. The performance of the club's middle relief/setup corps could also factor into its trade deadline plans.
- Meanwhile, the Tigers have enjoyed incredible production from starter Max Scherzer, who rates in the top five league-wide as measured by fWAR. (In fact, look at the rest of the list and you will notice that the club has four of the league's top twelve starters by that metric.) As FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi writes, Scherzer's breakout has set him up for a big payday. Agent Scott Boras says that Scherzer is "one of the top pitchers in the game," and will enter a "changed" pitching market "when [he] hits it" after 2014. With Scherzer posting remarkable strikeout totals and superior results, he will not only get a nice arbitration raise next year but has greatly raised the price of a hypothetical extension. Detroit may regret not taking up Ben Nicholson-Smith's suggestion before the 2012 season that a four-year, $30MM extension was a fair target. Now, the team will have to decide whether it can afford to lock down both Scherzer and fellow 29-year-old starter Doug Fister, with long-term deals already on the books for Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez.
5:58pm: A National League source told Buster Olney of ESPN.com (on Twitter) that the Mets didn't make an offer to Valverde either.
4:31pm: WFAN's Sweeny Murti tweets that Yankees GM Brian Cashman denied the claims made by Valverde. Cashman said that not only did the Yankees not make an offer, they didn't even have discussions with Valverde and Boras.
3:55pm: Jose Valverde is back in a familiar role as the Tigers' closer, but he could've been in a very different situation had wanted to this offseason. The 35-year-old told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports today that the Yankees and Mets both offered him a Major League contract this offseason (Twitter link).
Neither the Mets or Yankees wound up adding much in the way of bullpen help on Major League deals. The Mets reportedly had interest in Brian Wilson at various points throughout the winter. Ultimately, they elected to sign Brandon Lyon and add Scott Atchison and LaTroy Hawkins on minor league commitments. The Yankees, meanwhile, re-signed Mariano Rivera and swung a deal with the Mariners to land right-hander Shawn Kelley.
Valverde signed a minor league contract with the Tigers in early April which was re-worked into a Major League deal yesterday. The Scott Boras client clearly would not have been a candidate to close for the Yankees with Rivera in the fold, though it seems possible that he could've gotten some save opportunities for the Mets.
The Tigers have officially added Jose Valverde to their roster following the signing of a one-year, Major League contract. Valverde's deal reportedly contains a base salary of roughly $2MM with another $3MM available via incentives. The Scott Boras client will serve as the team's closer.
The 35-year-old Valverde initially signed a minor league contract with the club in early April that had a May 5 opt-out clause, but that contract didn't include a Major League portion, so the two sides have since worked out a Major League pact.
Valverde is the last of MLBTR's Top 50 Free Agents to sign. He rejoins the Tigers' organization after serving as their closer for the past three seasons. Valverde struggled mightily in the 2012 postseason, and the team did not attempt to re-sign him. Aside from picking up the club option on Octavio Dotel, Dombrowski did little with his bullpen over the offseason. Relief prospect Bruce Rondon was talked up as the team's potential closer, but he was demoted to the minors at the end of Spring Training (he's since been called up). The team entered the season with the dreaded closer-by-commitee but had seen Joaquin Benoit emerge as the primary ninth-inning option prior to the Valverde signing.
Valverde posted a 3.78 ERA, 6.3 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, and 0.39 HR/9 in 69 innings last year. He saved 35 games in 40 tries, but saw his strikeout rate plummet from years past.
Valverde's signing marks the conclusion of MLBTR's Free Agent Prediction Contest, and the winner is Josh Larabee with 20 of 50 correct. I don't think anyone has come close to batting .400 in the past, and Josh won $500 for his excellent prognosticating skills.
Patrick Reusse of 1500 ESPN was the first to break the news of the minor league signing (on Twitter). Following the team's announcement of the Major League contract, MLB.com's Jason Beck wrote that it would be an incentive-based deal, and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports added the salary information (Twitter link).
Charlie Wilmoth and Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.