Don’t Read Too Much Into the Timing of the Jose Valverde Signing


We see the timeline as this, and we assume the two events are related:

Wednesday: Phil Coke blows a save.
Thursday: Detroit Tigers sign Jose Valverde.

Oct 6, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Jose Valverde (46) reacts after game one of the 2012 ALDS against the Oakland Athletics at Comerica Park. Detroit won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s easy to call this a panic move by the Detroit Tigers. The timing makes it seem that they’re looking for someone, anyone to take the reigns of the closer job because they’re out of further options and everything they’ve tried (Bruce Rondon, closer by committee) has failed thus far.

But I’m not certain that the two results are connected even at all. The Tigers had said all offseason long that they weren’t interested in brining back Jose Valverde, but what they probably meant was that they weren’t interested in bringing him back for any number of actual guaranteed millions of dollars. Implications are that agent Scott Boras maintained the demands of a major league contract (presumably a seven figure one) until just recently. Chris Iott has a Dave Dombrowski quote that goes along with this line of thinking.

"Dombrowski said he has spoken with agent Scott Boras several times — probably as many as 10 times — since last season. The deal came together quickly Thursday morning for one reason.“It’s really also the first time (Boras) has basically said to me, ‘Go ahead and take a look at him,’ ” Dombrowski said."

I think the Tigers would have been happy to sign him to a minor league deal all along, but (understandably) Boras and Valverde hadn’t been willing to consider that option until just recently. Detroit (also understandably) didn’t want to guarantee millions of dollars to a guy they weren’t sure could do the job. His ever-slowing fastball combined with an ineffective splitter turned him into an extremely hittable pitcher (though he maintained good effectiveness against right-handed pitching).

That this all came about at the present time, I think, is more of a sign that Valverde and Boras accepted the fact that a major league deal wasn’t going to come, and less of a sign that the Tigers are in panic mode. This simply gives the Tigers another option. If they like what they see with this reportedly rejuvenated arm, great, they have a potentially solid option in the late innings. If not, no harm done.