June 27th, 2013
For some of you, that headline will hit you as a sign of your worst baseball fears all over again. Some of you, on the other hand, were expecting this news any day now. Either way, the Tigers made it official on Thursday, announcing after the game that Valverde accepted the outright.
“I’m glad he’s going to stay in the organization and just see if he can possibly go down there and get it straightened out,” manager Jim Leyland said Thursday.
The assignment comes with no guarantee he’ll make it back. The fact that the Tigers don’t have a set closer to replace Valverde, and the fact that no other team claimed him on waivers, made this likely the best opportunity he was going to find.
“We’ll take a look at his velocity and the movement on his pitches, command on his pitches and his ability to throw a split-finger, which when we first brought him back we thought was very important for him. He really has struggled with that,” team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said last week. “Again, I think a lot of it is mechanically related. When [Tigers pitching coach] Jeff Jones talks about it, his arm angle is a little bit lower than we would like. That’s what we would look for.”
Valverde was expected to make a stop in Toledo on his way back to the big leagues in April after he signed a minor-league contract, but the Tigers promoted him straight from Class A Lakeland. The 35-year-old hasn’t pitched at the Triple-A level since 2006 in the Diamondbacks organization. The outright does not void his contract; if he’s brought back to Detroit at some point, his salary and incentives will pick up where they left off.
It’s not yet clear whether Valverde will be closing for the Mud Hens, who have had Bruce Rondon thriving in the ninth inning for most of the season. Team president/GM Dave Dombrowski said in an email to MLB.com on Thursday that they have not determined his role down there yet, having just received notification today that he’d be accepting the assignment.