jose valverde agrees to a minor-league deal with the #dbacks— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 17, 2013
But then, two hours later:
my bad. i miss-interpreted a text, valverde has NOT signed with #dbacks. he talked to them, but hes still a free agent— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 17, 2013
Please hold off on planning the parade, and continue with your normal business. However, since there are apparently "talks" going on, I'll leave this here, just in case. :)
It's amazing to think it has now been more than 16 years since Jose Valverde signed with the Diamondbacks, as a 19-year-old out of the Dominican Republic, back before the team had even played a single major-league game. He made his debut for us in 2003, picking up 10 saves in his rookie season. But it was 2007 that he really blossomed, a key component of the bullpen which helped the team to the National League Championship Series. The Big Potato led the National League with a franchise-record 47 saves, a mark which still stands, and getting his first of three All-Star selections.
However, at the end of the year, we sold high on our closer, he was traded to the Astros on the same day we acquired Dan Haren. Valverde's price was beginning to escalate, as he entered his arbitration years: it's an interesting contrast to the Addison Reed trade yesterday, where we acquired a guy coming off his first 40-save season. For Valverde, we received Chad Qualls, Juan Gutierrez and Chris Burke: it looked nice after the first year, where Qualls alone had a better ERA than Valverde, despite the latter notching 44 saves for the Astros. But based on overall subsequent performance, you'd be hard pushed to call it a massive win for us.
After his time in Houston, Valverde hit the free agent market after 2009, and got the big closer's bucks from the Detroit Tigers signing a deal which turned out to be for three years and $23 million. He was an All-Star two of those seasons, peaking in 2011, with 49 saves and a 2.24 ERA, becoming the first man since Randy Myers to have led both leagues in saves. However, his splitter, an essential part of his arsenal, apparently deserted him in 2013, and he was designated for assignment in June. He passed through waivers and was eventually released entirely by the Tigers in August.
He'll turn 36 during Cactus League play next year, but the man is fourth on the saves leaderboard among active players - he still also holds the Diamondbacks franchise record with 98, fifteen ahead of J.J. Putz - and has a career 3.19 ERA. So it's the kind of low-risk gamble I don't mind. If he can re-discover his splitter [perhaps something new pitching adviser Dave Duncan can take on as a project for spring], he could still have some value. If not, and given the haste with which the Tigers dumped him, that certainly appears to remain the most likely outcome, then we're out little more than a set of cleats.