The Detroit Tigers are making a bit of noise today regarding their bullpen situation.
First, Jason Beck of MLB.com tweets that they have avoided arbitration with reliever Joel Zumaya, signing him to a one-year contract at undisclosed terms (he made $735,000 last season).
Zumaya, a strikeout and walk machine who battled injuries all of last season — and once hurt himself playing Guitar Hero — figures to be the leading candidate to land Detroit’s closer job after Fernando Rodney wisely took an insane offer to join the Angels.
Don’t pencil Zumaya into that spot just yet, however. Jon Paul Morosi at Fox reports that the Tigers “are believed to have the biggest current offer out to free-agent closer Jose Valverde.”
He also writes that the sides aren’t close to an agreement, though. Despite leading the NL in saves in both 2007 and 2008, the market just hasn’t been there for Valverde this offseason, so the Tigers might be in good shape to land him if they just stay patient.
Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.
Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.
The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.
In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler Austin–Greg Bird combo in 2017.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.
Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.