This weekend it was reported that Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland was interested in the team re-signing former closer and current free agent Jose Valverde. However, Leyland recently denied these rumors, telling reporters, including Jason Beck of MLB.com, the Tigers have not discussed Valverde.
There have been reports that the Tigers are growing more and more uneasy with the idea of rookie Bruce Rondon breaking camp as the team's closer. This led to speculation that coaches, including Leyland, would prefer a veteran presence, such as Valverde, at the back-end of Detroit's bullpen. Meanwhile, the front office reportedly wants to give Rondon a full opportunity as closer to start the regular season.
Valverde spent the past three seasons at the Tigers' closer. After posting an ERA of 2.24 and converting all 49 of his regular season save opportunities in 2011, the 34-year-old struggled last year. He ended the regular season with an ERA of 3.78 and ultimately lost the role of closer in the playoffs.
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So far this offseason, Valverde has been tied to the Tigers, New York Mets, Miami Marlins and San Francisco Giants. He's decided against pitching for the Dominican Republic at the start of the World Baseball Classic, but Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports the right-hander could join the team later into the tournament. Valverde will miss the beginning of the WBC due to the illness of a family member.