The Mets announced that they have signed free-agent reliever Jose Valverde to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training.
Jon Heyman reports that he can earn $1 million if he makes the team.
Valverde, who turns 36 next month, has recorded 286 saves during his 11-year career.
After a successful run with the Detroit Tigers from 2010 to 2012 in which he saved 110 games and posted a 3.00 ERA, he went downhill and was eventually released by Detroit last season after posting a 5.59 ERA in 20 appearances.
“We were looking for a veteran presence in the bullpen, he does have some experience closing, but this is not a move to displace Bobby Parnell,” Sandy Alderson said after the signing was announced. “We signed him to a minor league contract and we’ll see how he throws in spring training.”
One day after Mets GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets were looking to add experienced relievers, the Mets inked the veteran closer to a minor league contract. Valverde is a three time all-star and along with his 286 career saves owns an excellent career ERA of 3.19 and a 1.18 WHIP during 11 major league seasons. His most recent success came with Detroit in 2011, where he was perfect in all 49 of his save opportunities.
While Valverde has been a a top flight closer at times in his career, I do not believe he will make much of an impact on the Mets other than to add some competition to the other bullpen candidates in camp. He is now past his prime and has seen the velocity in his fastball slide from a high of 95-96 in his prime to a career low of 92-93 mph.
During his short stint with Detroit last season, Valverde posted a dreadful 5.59 ERA and was hammered for six home runs in just 19.0 innings. Valverde had also showed significant signs of decline in 2012 when he posted his worst ERA, WHIP and K/9 totals since 2006. He also proved to be very ineffective in post season play that season, and yielded 9 earned runs in 2.2 innings for the Tigers in 2012.
Given his recent history, it is clear Valverde has severely declined. While he used to be a solid closer, he is simply not the same pitcher anymore and can no longer overpower the opposition as he once did. It’s only a minor league contract, but there’s not much upside with this move.