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Tigers spend $14 million on short man

1/14/2010

According to the Detroit Free Press, the Tigers have signed Jose Valverde. And not for cheap, either. Dave Cameron:

    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?

    --snip--

    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.

Umm, yeah. I wish I could disagree with Cameron, if only for variety's sake. But this strikes me as a monumentally poor use of $14 million and a first-round draft choice. Not because Valverde's a useless pitcher; he's actually quite useful. But a pitcher like Valverde -- any relief pitcher, really -- should be the final ingredient. You fill all the other holes you can fill, and when you're satisfied with your catchers and your first baseman and your second baseman and your shortstop and your third baseman and your three outfielders and your four best starting pitchers ... When you're satisfied that you've done everything you can possibly do at all those spots, then you start worrying about the guy who's going to pitch 65 or 70 innings.

If you've done all that and you've still got $14 million rattling around in your pocket, sure, by all means, go sign Jose Valverde and fork over a draft pick. But the Tigers haven't done all that. In a year or two, this may be a really, really tough move to justify.