UPDATE: It’s official.
Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that the Tigers are expected to exercise their $9 million option on closer Jose Valverde, which is no surprise after he went 49-for-49 converting saves in the regular season.
Valverde didn’t pitch quite as well as the perfect save percentage would suggest, posting the lowest strikeout rate (8.6 per nine innings) of his career at age 33 while walking 34 batters in 72 innings.
Toss in the abundance of quality veteran relievers on the free agent market this offseason and Valverde may not have gotten a long-term deal at $9 million per season on the open market, but for a one-year commitment that salary is much more palatable.
And while the save percentage may overrate Valverde some he’s still a damn good pitcher, with a 3.02 career ERA and marks of 2.24, 3.00, 2.33, 3.38, and 2.66 during the past five seasons. Detroit also has Papa Grande’s primary setup man, Joaquin Benoit, under contract for $5.5 million in both 2012 and 2013, so the back of the bullpen is locked in and the Tigers have an in-house replacement for Valverde should he walk after next year.