Joel Sherman of the New York Post has reported that Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland is interested in re-signing free agent RP, Jose Valverde. Sherman is hearing that Leyland would like to bring him back as a closer safety net should their current closer, Bruce Rondon, struggle, but only if the price is right.
Valverde spent the first five years of his career with the Arizona Diamondbacks. During that time period, he fluctuated as middle reliever, setup man and eventually, as closer. His final year in Arizona (2007) he led the NL in saves with 47. That offseason, he was traded to the Houston Astros for Chris Burke, Juan Gutierrez and Chad Qualls, the latter of which would eventually serve as the Diamondbacks closer a few years later. Valverde flourished in Houston, leading the NL in saves for the second consecutive year (2008) with 44 and finishing his two year stint in Houston with a total of 69 saves.
Valverde was labeled as a Type A free agent following the 2009 season. The Astros offered him salary arbitration, which he declined, meaning that if he were to sign with another team, the Astros would receive that teams first round pick and a sandwich pick between the 1st and 2nd rounds of the 2010 MLB Draft. Valverde eventually signed a two-year, $14 million deal, with a third year team option for $9 million with the Tigers. The Astros received their first round pick (19th overall), which they used on high school SP, Michael Foltynewicz and a sandwich pick (33rd overall) which they used on 3B/C, Mike Kvasnicka.
Valverde’s Tigers career was superb. He led the AL in saves in 2011 with 49 and wrapped up a perfect season in which he did not blow a single save all year. He was a stabilizing figure in the Tigers bullpen and helped the Tigers through their playoff chase and World Series run.
The Tigers want Valverde back but only at their price. The veteran reliever is still holding out hope for a closer’s job, although, at this point, he likely realizes that he will need to settle for a major league contract with an opportunity for saves.