KFFL.com's Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat series gives you no-nonsense ratings of performances, injuries and managerial decisions in MLB bullpens. Get your arm loose: Let's find fantasy baseball players in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball league who'll get saves.
Scott Boras has a new client. Jose Valverde signed with the super agent as he heads into free agency. The righty will be 35 before next season starts. How heavily would a team commit? Boras put together one of his traditional notebooks of achievements for the right-hander to try to sway interested teams.
Valverde leads the majors in saves over the last six years, standing at 223 after he threw a scoreless stanza Wednesday. The right-hander, who often makes things interesting during his appearances, actually has a 93.0 percent save conversion rate in his three seasons as a Tiger.
He's 32-for-37 this year, and that lofty career number was no doubt fueled by his 49-for-49 2011, which was bound to come back to reality. Boras skimmed over the fact Valverde's K/9 has dipped all the way to 6.55, but Valverde has had a bit of bad luck this year (64.4 left-on-base percentage) and has improved his control (3.55 BB/9).
Of course, he's allowing more line drives and fly balls than he has in recent seasons. His stuff hasn't been playing as dominantly with the continued decline of his average fastball velocity and swinging-strike potency.
Will the fear of him becoming the next Francisco Cordero prevent him from cashing in like mid- and late-30s closers Mariano Rivera and Joe Nathan have done recently? His high-wire reputation might cut into what he earns, but Detroit doesn't have on roster a legitimate alternative and might pay up.
If Valverde departs, Joaquin Benoit (a free agent following the 2013 season) stands as the logical replacement. Maybe the talented Brayan Villarreal steps up, but Detroit wouldn't shy away from bringing in another RP. Keeper leaguers should expect Valverde to stick in a saves gig, wherever he winds up, but they should also prepare for the opposite possibility.
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