Jose Valverde Rumors
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.
The latest out of baseball's Central divisions...
- Pirates closer Jason Grilli told ESPN's Buster Olney (Insider required) that he wouldn't trade his past trials and tribulations in his career because they've made his new role that much sweeter. Grilli relishes the chance to be "The Guy" at the end of games, and he was encouraged last season by then-teammate Joel Hanrahan telling him, "Grilli, you can definitely do this."
- Cubs manager Dale Sveum recently said he'd be lying if the team's early struggles didn't have him thinking about his job security, but GM Jed Hoyer told ESPN's Jesse Rogers that Sveum's job is secure. "[Job security] shouldn't be what he's thinking about in the least," Hoyer told Rogers in voicing his support.
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski addressed reporters regarding Jose Valverde yesterday (video link), noting that a 40-man roster move is on the horizon to get Valverde on the club. Dombrowski said he's pleased to have Valverde back in the fold and that no Triple-A time was necessary given his track record and how his stuff looked at Class A Lakeland. Valverde is throwing 93-95 mph and is throwing better than he was last season, per Dombrowski.
Jim Callis of Baseball America presented the assigned bonus pool values for each club's selections over the first ten rounds of the upcoming amateur draft. This breakdown provides additional detail on MLB's allocation of bonus pool money by pick. Here are some American League notes:
- One player off to a happier start to his season is Ervin Santana, who was acquired by the Royals from the Angels after a disappointing 2012. Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star addressed the possibility of an extension for Santana, who will be a free agent after this season. Dutton downplayed that likelihood, reasoning that if Santana keeps throwing well, he will be set up for a large free-agent payday that the Royals probably cannot afford to buy out. If he falters, the Royals likely have more attractive in-house options for their 2014 rotation.
- Dutton also threw cold water on the idea of a deal sending Mike Moustakas and a prospect to the Padres for fellow third baseman Chase Headley. Headley's current and future salary levels are likely too high for the Royals, says Dutton, whereas Moustakas will likely not hit arbitration until 2015.
- The Mariners, like the Royals, hope to join the contending ranks in the immediate future. As Dave Cameron writes for U.S.S. Mariner, the team's efforts should be aided by an increased payroll supported by increased television revenues. The team had an opt out clause in its broadcast licensing deal with ROOT Sports. Instead of simply negotiating another licensing arrangement, the Mariners bought a majority stake in ROOT. The club's ownership of its own regional sports network will allow it effectively to shield TV dollars from MLB's revenue sharing arrangement.
- While next year's free agent market may not present as good a buying opportunity for the M's as in years past, Cameron explores how revenue imbalance will still make its mark. MLB may not permit large cash transfers in trades, but Cameron says that creative extend-and-trade scenarios could effectively allow large revenue clubs to flex their economic muscles.
- The Doug Fister trade may have brought controllable, younger players to Seattle at the time it was completed, but Larry Stone of the Seattle Times agrees with MLBTR's Steve Adams that the deal went sour for the Mariners and GM Jack Zduriencik. Ultimately, while there is still some potential upside to be realized by the M's, it seems likely that the Tigers will remain the winners of that swap.
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, who brought the now-29-year-old Fister to Detroit, commented today on the contract that brought former closer Jose Valverde back in the organization's fold. According to MLB.com's Jason Beck, Dombrowski said that the opt out clause in Valverde's deal can be exercised on May 8. The original date was May 5, as originally reported, but it was moved back due to delays in getting Valverde to extended spring training. The team appears to be in no rush to decide whether to elevate Valverde to the big league club.