Jones had 38 saves for the Tigers last season, a year after
saving 37 games to help Detroit make the playoffs for the first
time since 1987. He had four more in the postseason as the Tigers
reached the World Series. He turns 40 in April.
"For us, he's done a quality job for the last couple years and
for us, a real big need for him to come back and fill that closer
role," Tigers president Dave Dombrowski said.
Re-signing Jones became even more important for Detroit when
hard-throwing reliever Joel Zumaya had shoulder surgery, costing
him at least the first half of the 2008 season.
"Joel is going to be a real tough void to fill. You'll see how
valuable he is by the amount of money that Dave has to commit to
try to fill those spots," Jones said.
Earlier Monday, the Tigers acquired outfielder Jacque Jones from
the Chicago Cubs for utility player Omar Infante. The Tigers also
filled a major need two weeks ago, trading for All-Star shortstop
Edgar Renteria from Atlanta for two prospects.
"We've done a lot of things here already since the season
ended," Dombrowski said. "Our No. 1 priority would be trying to
get a starting pitcher. I'm not going to forget about the bullpen
by any means, but with getting Todd back, at least I feel
comfortable that we're solid out there."
Jones agreed that Detroit needs more pitching. Kenny Rogers is
talking to the Tigers but also exploring other options.
"That's the Achilles' heel, it looks like now," Jones said.
"Dave is going to get us a starting pitcher, and then he'll help
us with the bullpen, and then we'll be set to go."
Jones, who lives in Georgia, said six or seven teams were
interested in him, but not the Atlanta Braves. The right-hander,
who has 301 saves and a 3.93 ERA over 15 seasons, isn't sure
whether 2008 will be his last year.
"I just appreciate the Tigers, you know, letting me kick tires
and letting me look around, and with no hard feelings," Jones
For now, Zach Miner and Jason Grilli could be the relievers who
try to help the Tigers get to setup man Fernando Rodney.
"We're aware of the bullpen," Dombrowski said. "I don't think
it would be anything we would rush out and do immediately."