The Detroit Tigers may have interest in bringing back former closer Jose Valverde.
So I am not surprised to hear Leyland remains interested in bringing Valverde back as closer safety net but $$ still not right. #Tigers
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) March 2, 2013
The three-time All-Star has failed to attract much interest from teams so far this off-season, after recording 35 saves last season for the Tigers. Valverde was coming off a 2011 campaign, going 49-for-49 in save opportunities, but his well documented struggles in 2012, especially during the playoffs, parlayed with a high-asking price after making $9 million in 2012, have left him unsigned to date.
Valverde ended the season with a 3.78 ERA, 3.62 FIP and 5.01 xFIP, but lost his closer’s job in the playoffs after allowing nine earned runs in just 2 2/3 innings in the post-season. He was hoping to play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, but withdrew due to a personal matter.
If the Tigers bring back Valverde, it will likely be on a minor-league deal. Valverde not only needs to show manager Jim Leyland and his staff that he still has the stuff that once made him an All-Star caliber closer, but he must also win back the fans trust, which will be a tough task for sure. Currently, the team has right-hander Bruce Rondon penciled in as the closer in 2013. Rondon, 21, is ranked as the Tigers second best prospect behind Nick Castellanos. In 52 minor-league games last season, he recorded a 1.53 ERA, 3.20 FIP and 11.21 K/9.
Other free agents still on the market include pitcher Kyle Lohse, Derek Lowe, Chien-Ming Wang, Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos Lee, Orlando Hudson and Jim Thome, to name a few.