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.

Report: Diamondbacks acquire Steven Souza from Rays in part of three-team deal

Tampa Bay Rays
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Update (6:35 PM ET): This is a three-team deal also involving the Diamondbacks, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Diamondbacks will receive outfielder Steven Souza from the Rays and second baseman Brandon Drury will head to the Yankees. Lefty reliever Anthony Banda will go to the Rays, Piecoro adds. The Diamondbacks will also receive prospect Taylor Widener from the Yankees, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert adds that the Rays will get two players to be named later from the D-Backs.

Souza, 28, is earning $3.55 million in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility, so the Rays are presumably saving money in moving him. Last season, Souza hit a productive .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBI, 78 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 617 plate appearances. Souza’s arrival almost certainly pushes Yasmany Tomas out of a starting gig.

Drury, 25, has played a handful of positions in his brief major league career. Last year, he played second base in Arizona, batting .267/.317/.447 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI in 480 PA.

Banda, 24, made his major league debut last season, posting an ugly 5.96 ERA with a 25/10 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings. The peripherals suggest he pitched better than his ERA indicated.

Widener, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the 12th round of the 2016 draft. This past season with High-A Tampa, he pitched 119 1/3 innings and posted a 3.39 ERA with a 129/50 K/BB ratio. MLB Pipeline rated Widener as the 14th-best prospect in the Yankees’ system.

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Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reports that the Rays will acquire second base prospect Nick Solak from the Yankees. The Yankees’ return is presently not known.

Solak, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2016 draft. He spent last season between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, hitting a combined .297/.384/.452 with 12 home runs, 53 RBI, 72 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases.

MLB Pipeline ranked Solak as the eighth-best prospect in the Yankees’ system and the fifth-best second base prospect in baseball, praising him for his ability to hit line drives as well as his speed.