Jose Valverde: Astros Closer Is in the Detroit Tigers' Crosshairs

Josh LevittSenior Analyst IJanuary 13, 2010

PHOENIX - JUNE 14:  Releif pitcher Jose Valverde #47 of the Houston Astros pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the major league baseball game at Chase Field on June 14, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Astros defeated the Diamondbacks 8-3.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

According to Lynn Henning of the Detroit News, the Tigers are going after Jose Valverde. The potential contract? Two years for $12 million.


Valverde will cost the Tigers plenty if he ends up signing with Detroit. The Tigers must forfeit their first-round draft pick in 2010 (19th overall), just as they likely will be on the hook for a two-year deal, probably in the neighborhood of $12-$13 million.

A two-year contract makes all the sense in the world for the Tigers. In exchange for surrendering their first-round pick, the Tigers would be acquiring an All-Star-caliber closer at a bargain-basement price. When you consider that almost all of the top closers are paid around $10 million annually, signing Valverde for two years at roughly $6 million annually is certainly a steal.

But for Valverde, a guaranteed two-year contract with the Tigers makes little sense.

Valverde has little leverage in negotiations because of his Type-A status and the limited number of teams that are looking for a closer, but unless Valverde insists on taking a multi-year contract that is far below what he expected to make this winter, he and his agent should do everything possible to keep the contract to only a one-year guarantee. The hope should be that Valverde can hit the open market again after the 2010 season and come closer to landing the multi-year contract worth around $10 million annually.

If the Tigers refuse to give Valverde a straight one-year deal, then a mutual option would suffice, but a player option for 2011 would be better. In addition, Valverde's agent needs to insist that if the Tigers sign Valverde, that they cannot offer him arbitration (a la Orlando Cabrera this winter) so that Valverde is not hamstrung by his Type-A status next winter.

There's no denying that Valverde is in a tough spot right now. But the best thing he and his agent can do this winter is to get everything in place for Valverde to maximize his earning potential next winter (one-year deal, cannot offer arbitration).

And look, if the Tigers need Valverde to accept a two-year deal to justify losing their first-round draft pick, then Valverde should simply move on and look elsewhere...namely Arizona or Houston.