Papa Grande in the Big Apple: Mets sign Jose Valverde

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Jose Valverde was rumored to be signing with the Diamondbacks back in December, but that never happened and now the longtime closer has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Mets.

Valverde saved 35 games with a 3.78 ERA for the Tigers in 2012, but his secondary numbers showed a pitcher in significant decline and sure enough last season he threw 19 bad innings before being released in early August.

He has 286 career saves, including leading the league three times, but at this point in his career Valverde should be strictly a middle relief option and even that might be a stretch at age 36. He’ll join fellow minor-league signing Kyle Farnsworth in competing for a roster spot during spring training.

Justin Verlander earns 200th career win

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Astros starter Justin Verlander wasn’t his usual dominant self on Sunday against the Athletics, but he was good enough to get the win. In doing so, he earned the 200th win of his career, becoming the 117th member of the 200-win club.

Verlander went 5 1/3 innings, yielding four runs (all earned) on seven hits and a walk with six strikeouts. On the season, Verlander is now 12-8 with a 2.65 ERA and a 223/29 K/BB ratio in 169 2/3 innings. Sunday’s win helped the Astros stave off the surging A’s. The Astros now have a one-game lead in the AL West.

Only two active pitchers have more wins than Verlander: Bartolo Colon (247) and CC Sabathia (244). Zack Greinke will likely be the next member of the 200-win club as he currently has 184 to his name.