UPDATE: It’s official.
Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that the Tigers are expected to exercise their $9 million option on closer Jose Valverde, which is no surprise after he went 49-for-49 converting saves in the regular season.
Valverde didn’t pitch quite as well as the perfect save percentage would suggest, posting the lowest strikeout rate (8.6 per nine innings) of his career at age 33 while walking 34 batters in 72 innings.
Toss in the abundance of quality veteran relievers on the free agent market this offseason and Valverde may not have gotten a long-term deal at $9 million per season on the open market, but for a one-year commitment that salary is much more palatable.
And while the save percentage may overrate Valverde some he’s still a damn good pitcher, with a 3.02 career ERA and marks of 2.24, 3.00, 2.33, 3.38, and 2.66 during the past five seasons. Detroit also has Papa Grande’s primary setup man, Joaquin Benoit, under contract for $5.5 million in both 2012 and 2013, so the back of the bullpen is locked in and the Tigers have an in-house replacement for Valverde should he walk after next year.
The Cubs had a scare on Wednesday night when third baseman Kris Bryant left with an apparent ankle injury. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Nationals catcher Matt Wieters hit a pop up that veered just into foul territory near the third base bag. Bryant caught it but his momentum took him back into fair territory. In doing so, he stepped awkwardly on the third base bag and appeared to twist his ankle. Bryant needed the assistance of manager Joe Maddon and the team trainer to get off the field.
Bryant was diagnosed with a mild ankle sprain, CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports.
Bryant was 2-for-3 on the night before departing and being replaced by Jeimer Candelario. He’s now hitting .264/.395/.520 with 16 home runs and 32 RBI in 329 plate appearances. Needless to say, the 39-39 Cubs would see their playoff odds hurt immensely if Bryant were to miss a significant amount of time.
Hector Gomez reports Twins third baseman Miguel Sano will participate in the 2017 Home Run Derby, to be held in two weeks at Marlins Park in Miami. So far, Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is the only other confirmed participant.
Sano, 24, is having an outstanding season, batting .274/.375/.548 with 18 home runs and 53 RBI in 293 plate appearances. According to MLB’s Statcast, only Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge (96.7 MPH) has a higher average exit velocity than Sano (96.4 MPH).
Brian Dozier was the last member of the Twins to participate in the Home Run Derby. In 2014 at Target Field, Dozier failed to make it into the second round after hitting only two home runs. Justin Morneau is the only Twin to have ever won the Home Run Derby, as he beat Josh Hamilton 5-3 in the finals of the 2008 Derby at Yankee Stadium — although Hamilton out-homered him in total 35 to 22.