The Tigers have signed free agent closer Jose Valverde to a two year $ 14 million contract with an option for a third year. The Tigers needed a veteran reliever after losing Brandon Lyon and Fernando Rodney to free agency. Valverde is a talented closer but he comes at a fairly steep price. Since he was a type A free agent, the Tigers will have to surrender their first round pick (the 19th overall pick) in the first year player draft.
This is a repeat from my earlier article but Valverde posted a 2.33 ERA and 56/21 K/BB ratio in 52 games last year. He was 25 for 29 in save situations in 2009 and 116 for 134 (87%) over the last three years. According to The Bill James Handbook, he had 41 clean outings in 52 games last year. A clean outing is any appearance in which a reliever does not allow a run or an inherited run to score. His 79% clean outing percentage compared favorably to Fernando Rodney (70%), Brandon Lyon (69%) and the MLB average (64%) in 2009.
Given the moves the Tigers have made to trim payroll and get younger this winter, giving up a first round pick for an expensive closer is a rather curious move. Valverde probably gives them their most talented reliever since Joel Zumaya in 2006 but the question is: will there be enough leads for him to protect with their offense?