November 30th, 2010

Tigers expected to tender contract to Zumaya

The speculation surrounding Joel Zumaya’s future with the Tigers seems to be reaching a conclusion. Not only is the team expected to tender a contract to their hard-throwing, oft-injured reliever, they could reach a deal sooner rather than later.

Joel Zumaya said by phone Tuesday morning that his agents have started talks with the Tigers about a contract, presumably a one-year deal that would take him into free agency next winter. Even if a deal doesn’t come together in the next couple days, Thursday’s deadline to tender contracts shouldn’t come into play. Zumaya, who has been wondering about his situation himself after reading reports, indicated he was told the Tigers have no intention of nontendering him.

The Tigers haven’t yet announced their nontender decisions, which basically come down to Zumaya and starter Armando Galarraga, and they probably won’t until sometime Thursday. But a look at the situation breaks down like this: While there’s a risk to paying a million dollars or so to somebody who hasn’t had a full, healthy season since 2006, there’s another risk of watching Zumaya finally put together a healthy season for another team, reaping the benefits of all the time the Tigers put in getting him healthy.

When asked how much interest Zumaya would attract on the open market if the Tigers nontendered him, one Major League talent evaluator put it this way: “More than some think.”

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