After the disappointing performance of Kevin Gregg in the closer’s role this year for the Chicago Cubs, Carlos Marmol has taken over adequately, and is the presumptive favorite to return as next year’s closer. Gregg is a free agent, an unless he takes mid-caliber setup man money, he won’t be back.
But that isn’t stopping speculation as to who might be the closer for the Cubs next year. And that speculation is coming from the prospective closer, himself.
Astros closer Jose Valverde told MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart today that he plans to test the free agent market after the season. He’d prefer to return to the Astros, but McTaggart finds Houston unlikely to pony up the cash. Valverde will come with the added cost of a draft pick, assuming the Astros offer arbitration to the Type A free agent. The closer noted that aside from the Astros, the Cubs may be in need of a closer. MLBTradeRumors.com.
Valverde has no doubt been dominant this year for the Astros – an ERA under 2.00, and more than a strikeout per inning. But there are concerns.
First is the aforementioned Type A status, which could cost the signing team a first round draft pick. Second is the market – Valverde is likely to be the best closer on it, and will command a multi-year deal for big money. Three years at $10 million per is not out of the question.
And lastly, there are questions about Valverde’s age. Although widely believed to have been born in mid-1979, Valverde recently revealed that he was actually born in early-1978. It is only a little over one year, but it means when next year starts, Valverde will be 32, not 30. Although the early 30s aren’t as degrading for pitchers as they are for hitters, it is a consideration. Also, the mere fact that there are confirmed issues with his age is concerning.
Even if I could get past the age thing – which I suppose I could – I don’t know that I could get past the ridiculous, embarrasing way that Valverde comports himself after a save. Valverde’s antics make Carlos Zambrano look like a guy who’s just trying to do the chicken dance at a wedding.