A report at MLB Trade Rumors suggests that interest is developing for Tigers free agent Joel Zumaya. Zumaya, who has hardly pitched the last few years, is coming off a wasted 2011 season in which he didn’t pitch at all. It has been suggested here, and pretty much everywhere that talks about Tigers baseball, that the Tigers should bring Zumaya back on a minor league deal. If the information in the report is true, it may be that the Tigers are going to be unable to do that. The Boston Red Sox in particular seem to be the most interested.
We all know that Zumaya possesses a fantastic arm. The question for the Tigers is, if there is any kind of bidding war, or offering of a major league contract, do the Tigers stay involved?
The first thing that needs to happen is Joel Zumaya needs to show that he is healthy. He is scheduled to throw a bullpen session in a couple of weeks, and I am sure the Tigers are going to be there. The second thing that is going to be important is to see if his stuff is going to be there. After multiple injuries and surgeries, is the velocity that essentially makes Joel Zumaya going to be there? Is he going to be able to put the same torque on that elbow that he has in the past and throw his curve?
The bottom line, and it’s one of the sadder things about Tigers baseball the last five years, is that Joel Zumaya can’t stay healthy. He hasn’t reached 40 innings since the magical 2006 season that built his legend. At this point, the Tigers can’t make the assumption that he will stay healthy. If there is someone out there that will give him a major league deal, and his arm may still be too tantalizing that could be the case, then the Tigers should back away. After all, they have seen this movie before.
I think most Tigers fans wish the best for Joel Zumaya, I just don’t think many want to go through seeing him have a little success and then watch him leave the mound wincing in pain once again. If there is enough teams with interest that 10 or more will be there to watch his bullpen session, then I say good for Zumaya.
But if it is anything more than a minor league deal, it’s time for the Tigers to move on.