Valverde throws 'pen sessions for scouts in D.R.
Reunion with Tigers unlikely, but workouts draw interest from multiple teams
LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers bid farewell to Jose Valverde last fall to make way for rookie Bruce Rondon to compete for their closer job. While Rondon opens the year at Triple-A Toledo instead, Valverde has lingered on the free-agent market long enough to see his old team go into the season with a closer-by-committee that doesn't include a clear closer preference.
A reunion between Valverde and the Tigers is characterized as highly unlikely, despite the team's current situation. Still, some wonder whether Valverde's agent, Scott Boras, might re-engage the club and its ownership now that plans have changed.
Boras told MLB.com on Thursday that Valverde has thrown bullpen sessions for scouts from multiple teams in recent days in the Dominican Republic, and will throw for a couple more shortly. He would not specify which teams, though he said more have gotten involved as Opening Day roster decisions have come down.
Boras said Valverde is throwing his fastball at 93-94 mph, by scouts' readings.
Once those workouts are complete, Boras said he expects a decision and a deal to come together fairly soon.
"Our plan was to wait and see what closer options availed themselves at this time," Boras said.
Boras said Valverde is open to a one-year contract.
Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said Thursday morning that the Rondon decision would not change their approach to the market. Though the Tigers have been rumored to be interested in potential trades for relievers, such as San Diego's Huston Street and Luke Gregerson, Dombrowski told the Detroit News last week he has not made a trade proposal.
Dombrowski has said all spring that he believes they have options in camp to fill the closer role, whether Rondon made the team or not. Now that Rondon hasn't, Dombrowski said they have options to close games, even if they don't have a closer.
"We have guys that we feel very comfortable can close games," Dombrowski said. "We may not have a closer anointed, but we have many guys that we think can close games. And so [manager] Jim [Leyland] will, kind of like he did in the postseason at times last year, mix and match."
It was Boras who coined the term "philosophical cliff" at the Winter Meetings in December to describe bringing Minor League prospects to the big leagues and putting them in roles with certainty. He didn't mention the Tigers by name when he made those statements, but his comparisons echoed the team's situation.
"I think you count on one hand the number of closers under the age of 23 that have ever gone to the big leagues and at a young age put together 30 saves, let alone pitch in the postseason and be effective," Boras said at the time.