The Detroit Tigers signed Jose Valverde to a minor-league contract on Thursday, one day after Phil Coke blew a save in a 3-2 loss to the Twins. Valverde’s contract includes an out-clause, which triggers on May 5 — if Valverde is not with the Tigers by then, he can void his deal and become a free agent again.
But according to GM Dave Dombrowski, the Tigers will “figure out pretty quickly” if Valverde can be of assistance in the bullpen.
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The Tigers almost certainly would not use Valverde anywhere in their bullpen except at the closer spot. They entered this season planning to go with a closer-by-committee approach, despite Jim Leyland’s preference to have someone set in that role. Coke took the ball in the ninth inning of Detroit’s first two games, closing out the opener but then blowing game two.
Detroit currently has several other options available at the end of games, including setup man Joaquin Benoit, Octavio Dotel, Brayan Villarreal and Al Alburquerque; Bruce Rondon, the team’s presumed closer of the future, currently is pitching for Toledo.
In fact, Rondon may have to cede save situations to Valverde, at least in the short-term, as the Tigers attempt to figure out if their former closer has anything left in the tank.