Jose Valverde remains unsigned and except for a report linking him to the Marlins that was immediately shot down as being fueled by agent Scott Boras there’s been little even linking him to teams.
That’s surprising, because while Valverde’s performance has clearly declined he did save 35 games last season and a league-leading 49 games in 2011. Once upon a time those save totals alone would have been enough to keep him employed, but the closer role has (rightfully) lost some of its mystique.
Meanwhile, the Tigers haven’t decided who’ll replace him as closer and when asked about Valverde’s status manager Jim Leyland told Jayson Stark of ESPN.com that he’s “broken-hearted” and “totally shocked” to see him unsigned in mid-February.
Of course, presumably Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski consulted with Leyland before deciding not to re-sign Valverde and despite an uncertain ninth-inning situation the manager isn’t broken-hearted enough to make a late push to bring back Valverde.
Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.
Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.
The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.
If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.