After an off-season of denial, a spring training of uncertainty, and one blown save, the Detroit Tigers have signed former closer Jose Valverde to a minor league contract. Patrick Reuesse of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities tweeted the news early this afternoon.
Reuesse reported general manager Dave Dombrowski’s plan to have Valverde throw some in Lakeland, then eventually join the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens. There is no reported timetable. The move comes one day after Joaquin Benoit and Phil Coke combined to blow a 2-1 ninth-inning lead to the Minnesota Twins.
When Valverde reaches Toledo, he’ll likely run into Bruce Rondon, the 22-year-old fireballer the Tigers hoped could replace Papa Grande this season after Valverde’s late-season fallout last year.
According to MLB.com beat reporter Jason Beck, Valverde can opt out of the contract if he’s not pitching in the major leagues on May 5th.
While many fans are already banging their heads against the wall over this move, it seems like a low-risk, high-reward decision. If it pays off, everybody’s happy. If it doesn’t, they gave him a chance, and the team is no worse off than they are now.