The Detroit Tigers have decided to part ways with their closing pitcher Jose Valverde. Valverde, who is a free agent, will not be offered a contract by the Tigers. Valverde became the most hated Tiger by fans after blowing several 2012 postseason games for the team.
The Tigers relationship with Valverde has taken a turn for the worse. Valverde had one of the best seasons by a closer in MLB history in 2011. Valverde, or Papa Grande as he is often referred to, completed 49 of 49 save attempts. With his 46th save, Valverde broke the Tigers save record, passing Todd Jones. In 2011, Valverde finished fifth in the AL Cy Young Award voting, which was one by Tiger teammate Justin Verlander.
Valverde has been a Tiger since the 2010 season. In that season, Valverde had 26 saves, with three blown saves, and a 3.00 ERA. In 2011, again, Valverde went perfect with 49 saves and a 2.24 ERA. The most recent 2012 season saw Valverde have 35 saves, while blowing 5 saves for the team.
Prior to playing with the Tigers, Valverde was a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Houston Astros. The closing pitcher led the league in saves in 2007, 2008, and 2010. Papa Grande remains the Diamondbacks’ all time saves leader.
By getting rid of Valverde, the Tigers free up $9 million that they paid to the closer this season. The hole at closer will allow the Tigers to let one of their relievers step up into the role. The Tigers may also test the free agent market or trade for a new closer.