San Diego Padres Should Give Reliever Jose Valverde a Shot

Paul Francis SullivanChief Writer INovember 11, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 24:  Jose Valverde #46 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the San Francisco Giants during Game One of the Major League Baseball World Series at AT&T Park on October 24, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Despite pitching horribly at the end of 2012, former Detroit Tigers pitcher Jose Valverde might be a low-risk, high-reward pickup for the San Diego Padres.

Jose Valverde essentially pitched himself out of relevance for the Detroit Tigers in the postseason this year. He melted down against the Oakland Athletics in the division series. He was then rocked by the New York Yankees in the ALCS. Then the San Francisco Giants showed that he could not be trusted in any big game situation.

The Tigers have said goodbye to Valverde. According to John Lowe of The Detroit Free Press, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski informed Valverde that he will not be coming back.

Any team trying to sign him would not have to surrender a draft pick and will clearly not be getting him at a superstar rate.

But the return could be solid.

The Padres should have Huston Street closing games next year, so putting Papa Grande in ninth-inning situations probably will not be a frequent occurrence.

Young relievers like Luke Gregerson and Miles Mikolas will fill out the bullpen. But if manager Bud Black, a former pitcher himself, and pitching coach Darren Balsley can figure out what is wrong with Valverde, they might have a deep and effective pen.

Valverde's problems were more than a handful of postseason games. He was mediocre most of the season and was prone to ninth-inning implosions.

But he is also a year removed from being a Top-5 Cy Young contender and saving 51 straight games. He may not be as brilliant as he was in 2011, but he is probably not as bad as he was this October.

A chance to prove himself, moving to a pitcher's division, playing in a low-pressure role and fanbase and having a new set of eyes to help work on his mechanics could give the Padres a strong weapon in their bullpen.

That is the best case scenario. The worst case scenario is that the Padres cut ties with him on an inexpensive contract.

It seems worth the risk.