Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
The notion that the Tigers would pursue Jose Valverde after jettisoning relievers Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon is a bit perplexing, but not altogether out there. Despite the perception that the Tigers are in salary dump mode, this team has a chance to compete in 2010, and while they have a stockpile of high potential arms for the back end of the bullpen, none have proven to be both consistently healthy and reliable. And if the Tigers plan to compete, relying on an oft-injured fireballer or a 22-year old less than two years removed from college could be questionable at best. The price tag is one matter (though as we inch closer to spring training, it's likely dropping which helps explain why the Tigers are getting involved in the race), but giving up the team's first round pick is another one. For a team that is clearly craving young talent, forfeiting the first round pick in the name of competing now would seem a tad contradictory. But the team picked up two sandwich round picks as compensation for losing Lyon and Rodney, and the team has been willing to grab players in later rounds and pay them first round money (Casey Crosby, Cale Iorg, Daniel Fields), so there's no reason to say that the team can't do it again. Ultimately, if the team believes they have a roster that can compete, and adding Valverde to the back end of the 'pen is a necessity for that to be accomplished, then it's a sound move.
Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
The offer to Valverde seems a bit curious to me, but his price is likely dipping as we head toward pitchers and catchers reporting, so maybe he winds up in the Tigers budget, just as Brandon Lyon did last year. Valverde is a quality reliever, and one that could certainly help a bullpen destined for large questions marks. The Tigers have a litany of internal relief options, but few with proven MLB experience in the late innings; something Valverde brings to the table. Even with the departures of Edwin Jackson and Curtis Granderson, it is possible the Tigers still fancy themselves Central Division contenders in 2010 (that's not a huge stretch if you believe in the youth coming in), in which case the acquisition of a proven high leverage reliever makes sense. Many will balk at the idea of giving up a first round draft pick, but in a year when the Tigers are likely to have three picks inside the top fifty of the draft, the Tigers can afford to lose their true first rounder in exchange for the nearly guaranteed production of someone like Valverde. The Tigers have given off a perception (perception mind you) of being under tight fiscal constraints, but when push comes to shove, if they still feel they will be in the thick of the division race, money will be there; and not just to acquire players for the big league team, but in order to pony up in the latter rounds of the draft, to make up for the potential lost of their first round pick.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
To be honest, the offer to Jose Valverde is a rather perplexing one. I understand that the Tigers don't have much in the way of experience at the end of the bullpen, but if getting a closer was such a high priority, why didn't the Tigers make more of a concerted effort to re-sign either Fernando Rodney or Brandon Lyon? Not to mention, the Tigers used a good chunk of their 2008 draft to get several prospects who have the chance to be contributors for the Tigers next year. The other issue concerning Valverde is money. He made $8 million last year in his final year of arbitration, and after his performances over the last three years, I find it difficult to believe that he would take a cut in pay to sign. I think Dave Dombrowski is kicking the tires on Valverde to see if he can swoop in and get an experienced closer on the cheap. The loss of the draft pick also hurts in the aspect that the Tigers do have a chance to do some damage if they choose to allocate their financial resources there, and should they lose that pick, it puts pressure on the Tigers to go over slot on later-round guys to try and make up for not having a first-rounder. Then again, the Tigers could do what they did in 2008 and not spend a lot of money on the draft, so only time will tell on that front. I think when it's all said and done, Valverde won't sign with the Tigers. I would be very surprised if the Tigers would sign a closer after not showing much interest in their in-house free agents while losing their first-round pick in the process.
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