Friday, February 22, 2013
Who needs Jose Valverde?
By Jason A. Churchill
Assuming right-hander Jose Valverde is capable of at least handling a setup role -- and there's no reason to believe the veteran will fall off so far as to be a middle reliever at best -- there are clubs that could use his talents late in games. A quick check of traditional statistics suggest there are contenders that could use an infusion of effective relief pitching.
The Milwaukee Brewers' bullpen stand out, having posted a 4.66 ERA -- worst in baseball -- and 29 blown saves -- also worst in baseball -- and despite not getting the good John Axford, the club's lone veteran addition to the relief corps is left-hander Mike Gonzalez. Otherwise, the club is counting on a big bounce-back season from their closer and some help from young pitchers.
The Mets have been linked to Valverde but ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin reported over the weekend that it's unlikely the club makes the move for the league's saves leader in 2011.
The Angels and Phillies already have made moves to shore up their bullpens, as have the Red Sox, and the Tigers appear to have moved on and aren't considering bringing back Valverde. The Blue Jays posted a mediocre 4.33 ERA in relief a year ago -- No. 25 in baseball -- but expect a healthy Sergio Santos this spring and will have Steve Delabar and Brad Lincoln, deadline acquisitions last summer, for the entire schedule.
The Yankees haven't expressed interest, as far as we know, but considering Mariano Rivera is 43 years old and a year off knee surgery, and right-hander Joba Chamberlain is all but a perfect bet to stay healthy and perform, Valverde may fit at the right price.
The Tigers did not tender Valverde a qualifying offer so there is no draft-pick compensation attached, but even so, it appears that very few teams actually need a veteran reliever at this stage. Valverde may have to wait to see if that changes due to injury or a mid-spring trade.