After several votes of confidence from manager Jim Leyland, the Detroit Tigers have designed Jose Valverde for assignment, ending his tenure as closer, according to John Lowe of USA Today and the Detroit Free-Press. Another team can claim the veteran right hander, otherwise the 3-time All Star can accept a minor league assignment or become a free agent.
Jose Valverde has been on thin ice with the ballclub and fans since an abysmal post-season last year, allowing 9 earned runs in 2 2/3 innings over the three series.
It appears Joaquin Benoit will get the first shot at the closers job. The Tigers had slotted right hand Venezuelan prospect Bruce Rondon for the job in spring training, but he failed to win it, putting the defending American League champions in a situation that they brought Valverde back just after the season started. Rondon is 1-1 with 14 saves and a 1.01 ERA in AAA Toledo, begging the question of whether now is the time to settle him into the role with the big league club?
The Tigers can also explore a trade, as this is about the time of year in which teams in the second half of the standings are willing to part with a closer. This year, there aren’t a lot of strong name out there that fit the category, all the more reason to promote from within in my opinion. If I were Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, I’d make finding a closer my #1 job between now and October, winning in the postseason depends on it.
– David Whitlock (@lhd_on_sports)
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