October 28th, 2011

Tigers pick up $9 million option on Valverde

With the World Series going to a deciding game Friday, Major League teams will have a slew of announcement on contract options coming by Monday’s deadline for deciding them. The Tigers’ decision on Jose Valverde didn’t have to wait through the weekend. He’s coming back at a cost of $9 million.

Valverde’s option year was part of the two-year, $14 million deal he signed as a free agent before the 2010 season. It wasn’t always looking like an automatic that the Tigers would pick it up, especially after Detroit signed Joaquin Benoit to a three-year, $15 million deal last fall. It had the appearance of a closer-in-waiting situation. Then Valverde went 52-for-52 in save situations between the regular season and playoffs.

They weren’t always easy saves, especially down the stretch. But in the end, the numbers were dominant: He allowed just 52 hits over 72 1/3 innings in the regular season with 34 walks and 69 strikeouts. Break down the stats to just save situations, and they were even stronger, with just three earned runs on 26 hits over 49 innings with 20 walks and 50 strikeouts.

Valverde is the only contract option the Tigers had to decide this offseason.

Verlander named Sporting News Player of the Year

Strike one blow in the Pitcher for MVP debate for Justin Verlander. And impressively, it came from his fellow Major League players.

The crowning honor of the season-ending awards from the Sporting News, the Player of the Year award, went to Verlander, the magazine announced Friday morning. Verlander is the first pitcher to win the honor since Orel Hershiser in 1988.

Voting took place among 289 Major League players, and the vote was very divided. Verlander received 67 votes, just 10 more than former teammate Curtis Granderson, with Matt Kemp close behind at 41. Jose Bautista and Ryan Braun received 25 votes apiece.