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 Tigers eye Valverde in tight market

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PostSubject: Tigers eye Valverde in tight market   Sat Jan 09, 2010 9:21 am

Tigers eye Valverde in tight market
Detroit vying with several other clubs for free-agent closer

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

01/08/10 6:16 PM EST

DETROIT -- The Tigers' patience could yet pay off with a closer at the end of their offseason dealings. But it appears it could be a wait.

While the Tigers have shown interest in free-agent closer Jose Valverde, so have other teams, to the point where Yahoo Sports reported that four offers are in for the two-time former National League saves leader.

It wasn't clear whether one of those offers came from the Tigers, or how recently those offers came in, but it's becoming clear nobody has met Valverde's reported asking price. The former Astros closer stands as the most prominent of the few closers left on the market, but he could remain there for a while in a waiting game until either a team or the pitcher budge.

ESPN.com's Buster Olney suggested Friday morning that Valverde was looking for $8 million per year, following other reports in the same financial range. His desire for a multiyear deal was strong enough that he declined Houston's offer of arbitration last month.

Neither the Tigers, nor the D-backs -- who are believed to be at their budget -- nor any other clubs in the market for a closer appear to be in that kind of financial range. In the Tigers' case, their abundance of young relief talent -- including closing prospect Daniel Schlereth from last month's trade of Edwin Jackson -- has given them another reason not to pursue a longer-term deal for any closer. There were indications the Tigers might've been a little more willing to consider a second year when they were talking about their own free-agent relievers, including Brandon Lyon, but both Lyon and Fernando Rodney signed elsewhere.

Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said earlier this week that he's "content" with his club's bullpen options if they don't sign anybody else, leaving Ryan Perry and Joel Zumaya as the likely competitors for the closing job. However, Dombrowski also said he's "open-minded" about finding ways to improve if any moves make sense.

From an experience standpoint, at least, adding Valverde has logic for a team where Zumaya's four career saves make him the most accomplished closer on the roster. Valverde's 116 saves over the past three years tie him for fourth in the Majors in that span with Jonathan Papelbon, trailing just Francisco Rodriguez, Joe Nathan and Francisco Cordero.

Valverde had just 25 saves and 45 games finished last year, but his supporting numbers were basically as strong as usual. He scattered 40 hits over 54 innings, struck out 56 and allowed just five home runs to go with his 2.33 ERA. He turned 30 years old last July.

Valverde has never pitched in the American League. He spent his first five years with the D-backs before he was traded to Houston after the 2007 season. However, Lyon didn't have much AL experience, either, until his '09 season in Detroit.

One complication would be the cost of a draft pick. Signing Valverde, a Type A free agent, would cost the Tigers' their first-round selection in this June's First-Year Player Draft. Though Detroit has two compensation picks coming from the loss of Lyon and Rodney, those picks won't be until the end of the second round. Even for a team that has found talent out of its secondary picks, that's a heavy price to pay.

Though Tampa Bay managed to add a similar Type A free agent reliever, Rafael Soriano, without giving up a draft pick in a sign-and-trade deal with Atlanta, such a move isn't likely to be repeated in this case. The Astros are expected to value the picks over any talent an interested club might offer.

The Tigers have a policy of not commenting on specific free agents.

On another front, Dombrowski said the Tigers were not in heavy pursuit of outfielder Scott Podsednik before he signed a one-year deal with the Royals on Friday. Though Podsednik spent time in center field last year with the White Sox, the Tigers did not consider him an option in center.

"We did not really pursue that," Dombrowski said.

Despite other rumors percolating, Dombrowski said the Tigers aren't looking to add a hitter unless that player has a defensive skill set. A rumored sighting of Jim Thome in Detroit last week fueled speculation of potential interest, but that won't be happening.

"We're not looking to add a DH," Dombrowski said. "We've said that all along."

Dombrowski reiterated the Tigers' plan to have Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez rotate in the designated hitter spot on days when they aren't in the outfield, allowing Ryan Raburn and Clete Thomas to potentially have some sort of semi-regular role. Miguel Cabrera also could see some limited time there, too, though he remains the everyday first baseman.

That said, Dombrowski isn't ruling out adding a hitter. After all, he admitted, "It's not like we led the league in runs."

The Tigers could add a hitter, Dombrowski said, "if it's the right situation. But it would have to be the right guy."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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PostSubject: Re: Tigers eye Valverde in tight market   Sun Jan 10, 2010 11:27 pm

I say we sign him, and then next season, if Schlereth or whoever else may be ready, trade him.

But I'm only a fan for a reason. I say we need some sort of veteran closer though.
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers eye Valverde in tight market   Tue Jan 12, 2010 5:16 pm

Detroit Tigers move closer to signing closer Jose Valverde
By Scott Warheit
January 12, 2010, 8:41AM

According to multiple reports, the Detroit Tigers may be moving closer to solving their desperate need for a closer.

According to FoxSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi, interest in Valverde from other suitors, including the Arizona Diamondbacks, is cooling off, leaving the Tigers as Valverde's most likely landing place.

January 12, FoxSports.com: Diamondbacks interest in Jose Valverde has cooled, a source says. If the Tigers have any money to spend, he should be theirs to sign.

It doesn't look like the Pirates or Cubs are major players for Valverde, either.
And, one of the sticking points to signing Valverde, his desire for a multi-year contract, may also no longer be an obstacle.

97.1 FM talk-show host Michael Stone reported Tuesday morning a source told him the Tigers have offered Valverde a two-year contract worth between $12 and $14 million.

Aside from the monetary gamble the on Valverde, the Tigers would also
surrender a first-round draft pick should Valverde sign with the team after he was offered arbitration.

Given the lack of other options for the team's closer, though, that's a trade the team is more than willing to make.


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PostSubject: Re: Tigers eye Valverde in tight market   Tue Jan 12, 2010 9:18 pm

I'm all for this! We be needin that closer.
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers eye Valverde in tight market   Wed Jan 13, 2010 10:03 am

Tigers logical destination for Valverde
Losing draft pick for closer could be small price to pay

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

01/12/10 8:03 PM EST

DETROIT -- The Tigers currently stand as the most interested and most logical destination for free-agent closer Jose Valverde, if they can find common ground on a contract. Not all of the price Detroit would pay, however, would be written in the fine print.

When it comes to giving up a Draft pick to sign Valverde, though, the Tigers are set up to handle it better this year than most.

Though Detroit faces less competition for Valverde than many pundits would've expected when the Hot Stove season opened, nothing about the state of the market changes Valverde's status as a Type A free agent. The stats on Valverde's effectiveness the last couple years don't shift, and neither does the ranking system created by Elias Sports Bureau that placed him solidly among the top relievers available on the market.

There's no question about Valverde's value. Talent evaluators seem to agree he remains among the top closers in the game. The fact that he remains on the market stems more from his decision to decline the Astros' arbitration offer last month and test free agency. It set up not only his own situation, but the question interested teams faced: Pay the draft pick to sign him or keep on shopping.

In the Tigers' case, since their 86-77 record ranked in the top half of Major League teams, that draft pick is a first-rounder. And that question becomes much more complicated.

How that impacts Detroit's negotiations remains to be seen. Though the Tigers have been reluctant to sign relievers to multi-year deals, their attempt to re-sign Brandon Lyon showed their willingness to entertain potential two-year contracts before Lyon signed for three years and $15 million with the Astros. Likewise, reports have suggested Valverde strongly wants a multi-year deal. Traditional thinking suggests a two-year contract, or at least one with an option year, justifies spending a draft pick, though it isn't necessary.

On the surface, giving up the pick would run counter to the organization's recently-professed strategy of building the team through regular contributions from prospects. History, however, shows losing a draft pick can be overcome.

Though the Tigers have signed top free agents since Dombrowski took on general manager duties in 2002, they haven't faced this scenario in quite some time. Detroit gave up a compensation pick to sign closer Troy Percival after the 2004 season, but it was a second-rounder rather than a first thanks to a 72-90 record that year. Same goes for 1999, when the Tigers signed Dean Palmer from Kansas City.

When the Tigers signed top pick Rick Porcello in 2007, Dombrowski talked about the draft as a way for them to compete with top-market clubs for prized talent on an even playing field. That philosophy hasn't changed.

"I know myself the last few years, I think what we've done well through our time is bring in young players and develop them and bring them up," Dombrowski said after last month's trade that brought in youngsters Max Scherzer, Daniel Schlereth, Austin Jackson and Phil Coke for Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson.

"We kind of got away from it, because we were just in a position where [we asked] what can we do to get this final piece. And I think that this gives us an opportunity to go back to building like we would like and set the foundation."

Not since 1991, after free-agent slugger Rob Deer took his high-power, high-strikeout bat to Detroit, have the Tigers not made their assigned first-round selection. Even that year, they had supplementary picks late in that round for losing Jack Morris and Mike Heath as free agents. They haven't gone without a first-round pick altogether since 1984, when they signed Darrell Evans.

They won't go without a first-rounder this year, either. With or without their assigned pick, the 19th overall selection, the Tigers have two compensation picks coming to them at the end of the first round for the loss of Type B free agents Lyon and Fernando Rodney. Even though those picks will come well later in the round -- at best around the 40s -- those compensation picks stand key in the Tigers' decision.

Though early analysis from blogs and publications such as Baseball America have tabbed next summer's Draft as potentially deep in pitching -- the position the Tigers have consistently tabbed in recent first rounds -- it's still early to project how deep the draft will end up. Tigers scouting director David Chadd said he sees potential depth.

Regardless, there's no question 20- or 30-some picks make a difference in what's available. The question is whether the Tigers can find value wherever they pick. In that respect, for all their success in the first round, they might wish to repeat another franchise's bit of history.

Before Chadd took over the Tigers' drafting duties, he spent three years as Red Sox scouting director. In two of those years, Boston lost its first-round pick for signing free agents, leaving their second-rounders as their first selections. Those picks brought in Jon Lester in 2002, then Dustin Pedroia in 2004.

As for a lost first-round pick, the Tigers could eventually get it back. A shorter-term contract on Valverde would have the potential to put him back on the free-agent market as a top free agent in a year or two, a scenario the Tigers could enjoy if Detroit's young relievers were to blossom as hoped. Valverde's production strongly suggests he has several years of production left, which is why a multi-year deal isn't out of the question for Valverde.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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