The Tigers grand bullpen experiment — which really isn’t a closer-by-committee thing — will apparently not last indefinitely:
Valverde will not join the big club immediately, Reusse reports. He’ll presumably go to Lakeland to throw some and then, eventually, find his way to Toledo. And if the Phil Coke/Joaquin Benoit follies continue, Papa Grande — who saved 35 games last year but proved unreliable down the stretch and ultimately lost his job in the playoffs — will be dancing his way across a diamond near you soon.
But the Tigers need to act on him soon: his contract has an opt-out clause dated May 5. Meaning if Valverde is not on the big club by then, he becomes a free agent again.
The Mets signed catcher Jose Lobaton to a minor league contract, the team announced Friday. The deal includes an invitation to spring training, where it’s assumed Lobaton will be in the mix for a backup role behind Travis d'Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki.
Lobaton, 33, is coming off of a four-year stint with the Nationals. He put up his worst career numbers in 2017, producing -0.6 fWAR after slashing just .170/.248/.277 with four home runs in 158 plate appearances. While he’ll give the Mets little to work with at the plate, his near-decade of experience behind the dish should make him a decent emergency option, if nothing else.
In the meantime, the Mets are expected to roll with a d’Arnaud/Plawecki platoon to start the season. Both catchers saw slight upticks in value over the 2017 season: d’Arnaud turned in 0.8 fWAR after hitting a career-high 16 home runs, while Plawecki collected 0.6 fWAR and three homers after raising his batting line over the Mendoza Line for the first time since 2015.