Fantasy owners can connect the dots to figure out which players to pick up off waivers. The fact that the Tigers signed Jose Valverde to a minor-league contract around the time Bruce Rondon was sent to the minors tells you all you need to know about their bullpen. Valverde should have immediately been added to your watch list. The Tigers don’t trust their other options to close out the 9th on a full-time basis. Joaquin Benoit, Phil Coke, and Drew Smyly have each recorded a save for the Tigers. Jim Leyland has mentioned Benoit seeing a majority of the save opportunities but also talked about mixing and matching.
Valverde lost the closers role during the 2012 playoffs. The Tigers let Valverde leave in part for his failures in the postseason. A career 9.64 ERA in the ALDS, 14.40 ERA in ALCS, and 54.00 ERA in World Series. This job was Bruce Rondon’s to lose in spring training unfortunately his lack of control was the problem. Rondon will probably get another shot to close in 2014. The young hurler could work his way up to the parent club. I figured this could be a problem for Rondon, so I handcuffed Benoit late in the draft as well.
The question the Tigers want answered in the minors is Valverde’s stuff good enough to still get outs in the 9th? I believe it’s just a matter of time before Papa Grande takes over the closer’s job in Motown. Valverde has 277 career saves including 35 last year. Fantasy owners in AL-Only leagues should already have Valverde rostered. Deeper mixed league owners also should take a chance on Valverde early. I picked up Valverde last week for a $1. I’d rather grab a guy a little early, than a little late. When Valverde gets called up the waiver bid could have cost exponentially more. The closer’s job in Detroit has yielded high production for fantasy owners in recent years. I recommend owners to take the plunge on Valverde or be prepared to strike soon.