Tigers interested in Dotel, but for what role?
Octavio Dotel has made 695 appearances and pitched 888 1/3 innings in his 13-year Major League career. He has pitched the seventh inning in 162 of those games, according to baseball-reference.com, including 86 games over the past four seasons. If he’s going to pitch in a Tigers uniform, he’s going to have to get used to that kind of work.
That’s a decision Dotel might have to make, and he’ll likely have a few choices.
The Tigers have indeed had discussions about Dotel. So have the Mets and Cardinals, according to MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, and the Reds, according to FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi, who first tweeted about the Tigers’ interest.
While the other three teams have uncertainty at closer, the Tigers have theirs with Jose Valverde, who hasn’t blown a save since Sept. 2010. Detroit also has its eighth-inning setup man with Joaquin Benoit, one of the stingiest relievers in the American League over the last two years.
The fact that the Tigers have shown interest in Dotel should sound familiar. They’ve been tied together in rumors ever since 2007, when the Tigers were looking for relief help at the Trade Deadline. They had rumors the last few years when Dotel has been on the market, but nothing has ever come out of it, and Dotel has always landed elsewhere. He has been a closer and setup man all over the place — Kansas City, Atlanta, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Colorado, Toronto and St. Louis in the last five seasons alone — but now he could be courted more for depth.
When Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski talked about his bullpen at season’s end, he left open the possibility that they could add a veteran reliever to help bridge the gap between their rotation and the Benoit/Valverde duo. It’s not exactly glamour work, but it’s a regular gig on a club with a chance to win. But then, the defending world champion Cardinals and Reds have that chance to contend, too.
This early in the process, it’s unlikely that the Tigers have discussed roles with relievers such as Dotel. Still, it doesn’t take much of a look to realize how the Tigers bullpen shakes out. Valverde is entering the lone option year on his contract, putting him in line for free agency next winter. But Dotel’s last two contracts have been one year and an option, which has been declined, which in part explains why he has bounced around. The Cards turned down Dotel’s $3.5 million option last month.
Having just turned 38, Dotel can go year to year and look for the best situation. The question now is where the Tigers rank, and how interested they are.