Jose Valverde‘s name hasn’t come up in any of this off-season’s rumors or speculations and it appears that few (if any) teams are interested in giving the veteran right-handed reliever a shot in 2013.
Valverde had horrific results in the postseason — he allowed nine runs (all earned) in four appearances while only recording eight outs — but his season on the whole wasn’t that bad. He saved 35 games and only blew 5 (that’s 88% — Mariano Rivera‘s career save percentage is 89%) while posting a 3.75 ERA. That’s not the ERA of an elite closer (or even a decent setup man) but that’s a pitcher that can still hack it in the Major Leagues.
It’s not all that surprising that he hasn’t signed a deal yet this off-season — he probably thinks of himself as a closer, wants a closer’s role, and closer’s money — but it’s interesting that his name hasn’t come up at all at any point. There hasn’t even been on hint (that I’ve caught wind of) of a team kicking the tires on Valverde as a setup man or middle reliever. Considering he’s only one year removed from a perfect season (in terms of save percentage) you’d think someone would want to try to buy low.
His 30.38 playoff ERA is surely going to scare some teams off (and he did look terrible), but he also suffered a .818 BABIP and saw two of every three fly balls clear the fence. He struck out 30% of the batters he faced and walked only 5% — very nice peripheral numbers. In fact, his xFIP for October was only 1.37. Now I wouldn’t say that accurately reflected his performance — his stuff was clearly off — but it may not have really been so bad as it seemed. Some bad luck was certainly at play.
The Tigers stated early on that they didn’t intend to bring Valverde back — and there’s no way they would sign him to serve as the team’s closer — but is there a price at which they would re-sign him to serve as a 6th inning righty specialist of sorts? Could Jose Valverde (at a low, low price) ever be considered depth or insurance for the ninth inning for the Tigers?
I would have no problem with the Tigers offering him a minor league deal to bring him in for spring training (if he’d even accept that), but there’s probably not room for him to make the team (even as a 6th inning guy) unless Bruce Rondon clearly isn’t ready for the big leagues. And if Rondon isn’t ready for the Majors, they’ll probably be looking for an 8th or 9th inning reliever, not a 6th inning guy.
There’s really no scenario in which it makes sense for the Tigers to sign Valverde, but it has to make sense for someone to take a chance on him.