Jim Leyland wants Jose Valverde back as “safety net”

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Joel Sherman tweets:

So I am not surprised to hear Leyland remains interested in bringing Valverde back as closer safety net but $$ still not right. #Tigers

As mentioned yesterday, Lynn Henning of the Detroit News had a “personal guess” that Tigers manager Jim Leyland was “scared stiff” at the thought of relying on rookie Bruce Rondon in the ninth innning. With an otherwise uninspiring back of the bullpen that includes Joaquin Benoit, Phil Coke, and Octavio Dotel, it isn’t surprising to hear that Leyland wants Valverde back.

Valverde, who turns 35 years old on March 24, successfully converted 49 of 49 regular season saves in 2011, finishing with a 2.24 ERA. He had markedly less success last season, as he converted 35 saves in 40 opportunities and finished with a 3.78 ERA. It was his post-season performance, though, that hurt him immensely. He allowed nine runs in four appearances spanning 1.2 innings.

Other unsigned relievers of note include Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez and Brian Wilson of beard fame.

Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson to table extension talks

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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.