****UPDATE 12:52 PM, February 4****
Sources: reports of #marlins nearing deal with Jose Valverde are "utterly false."— clarkspencer (@clarkspencer) February 4, 2013
Whether or not Spencer is correct remains to be seen, but this situation now bears monitoring over the course of the next several hours.
It'll be interesting to see which of the two reports is correct.
****END OF UPDATE****
It took until just a few weeks before the onset of spring training, but it seems as if closer Jose Valverde has finally found himself a job.
Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes has a source that told him Valverde and the Miami Marlins are close on a one-year contract for 2013.
Valverde is coming off a down season in 2012. He posted a 3.78 ERA with 35 saves while striking out a career low 6.3 batters per nine innings with the Detroit Tigers.
He did finish an American League high 67 games, though.
Last season was very unexpected, especially after considering his stellar 2011 campaign. That season, he posted a 2.24 ERA, 8.6 SO/9 and a 1.189 WHIP. He led the American League in games (75), games finished (70) and saves (49).
The Tigers seem content to hand over the closer's role to rookie Bruce Rondon next season, allowing Valverde to test the free agent market.
The market for him has been relatively quiet this offseason, and interest only just picked up after the top closer available, Rafael Soriano, signed with the Washington Nationals.
Valverde will likely take over for Steve Cishek as the closer in Miami. Cishek saved 15 games in 19 opportunities last season while posting an ERA of 2.69, but the sidewinder is best suited for a late-inning setup role.
The signing of Valverde likely has no negative implications for the Marlins. If he produces, he will be the unquestioned closer for the season.
If he falters (a la Heath Bell last season), Cishek can easily take the reigns as closer.
Even if Valverde pitches like he did last season, this is potentially a good signing for the Marlins.