Valverde to Detroit

As we mentioned this afternoon, there continues to be mounting evidence that this is a strong buyer’s market. Adam LaRoche’s signing continued the trend of non-star players receiving contracts in the $3 to $3.5 million per win range, as we’ve seen all winter, and even dating back towards the second half of last off-season.

As we head towards February, players are finding themselves with fewer and fewer options. Rather than having teams bid for their services, they are seeking out one team that may have a spot for them and asking for a contract offer. Wins are cheap and plentiful, as budget conscious teams continue to drive prices down.

And then, something like this happens – the Tigers give Jose Valverde a 2 year, $14 million contract, surrendering their first round draft choice in the process, since he was the last remaining Type A free agent on the market.

Seriously, in a market where everyone else is finding bargains, the Tigers pay $7 million a year for a good-but-not-great relief pitcher, and give up a draft pick for the right to do so. Were they not paying attention to the rest of the contracts being handed out? Did they not realize they were bidding against themselves? How do you justify dumping Curtis Granderson to save money, and then use that money (and more!) to sign a flyball reliever with command problems who has never pitched in the AL?

This isn’t anything against Valverde. He’s got a good arm with a fastball that averages 96 and a knockout splitter that racks up strikeouts, but we’re not talking about Mariano Rivera here. He’s a guy who pitches up in the strike zone and has a history of giving up home runs (which, you know, can be a problem when you’re asked to protect a one run lead) and has below average command to boot (career 3.6 BB/9).

That doesn’t mean he’s not useful – he’s racked up 6.4 WAR in his career for an average of 0.9 WAR per season. That makes him a good relief pitcher – not a great one, a good one.

For one year and a team that had money to spend, the salary wouldn’t be that bad. But two years and a loss of a draft pick? Really? In this market? On a team that is going cheap at second base and in center field?

Sorry, but this is a bad use of resources.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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Mike Green
12 years ago

What? $7 million/yr. plus a 1st rounder for a closer. In this market? I don’t get it either.

The thinking seems to be that their draft budget for 2010 will be stretched by the two compensation sandwich picks for the loss of Lyon and Rodney. I don’t see it.