The Tigers let Jose Valverde walk this winter — he’s still a free agent — and are considering turning closer duties over to rookie righty Bruce Rondon.
Rondon has logged only eight total innings above the Double-A level and has a troubling 5.1 career BB/9 in the minors. But the Detroit coaching staff loves his fastball velocity and the 22-year-old did pretty well Saturday afternoon in his Grapefruit League debut.
Rondon allowed a double and a walk but struck out two Blue Jays hitters and wound up with a scoreless frame. And there’s this from MLB.com’s Jason Beck:
Rondon has reportedly hit 103 mph with his fastball several times in the minor leagues. Which doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to have success at the next level. But it’s certainly something to build around.
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.