Astros' closer Valverde moving on to Detroit

Jose Valverde is leaving Houston after a two-year stint as closer here. (AP)

January 15, 2010 6:56:46 AM PST
The Detroit Tigers have found their closer. Jose Valverde and the Tigers reached a preliminary agreement on a $14 million, two-year contract, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

The person, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday night because the team hadn't made an announcement, said the deal includes a $9 million option for 2012 and is subject to a physical.

Valverde saved 25 games in 29 chances for Houston last season, then filed for free agency. He was 4-2 with a 2.33 ERA in 52 appearances.

Before that, the right-hander led the NL in saves in consecutive seasons. He had 47 with Arizona in 2007 and 44 for the Astros in 2008.

Detroit desperately needed a closer after choosing not to re-sign relievers Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon. Rodney received an $11 million, two-year contract from the Los Angeles Angels, and Lyon signed with Houston for $15 million over three years.

The 30-year-old Valverde is 19-19 with a 3.17 ERA and 167 saves in seven major league seasons -- five with the Diamondbacks and two with Houston. He was an All-Star in 2007, when he won the Rolaids Relief Man Award in the NL and finished sixth in Cy Young Award voting.

Valverde is a Type A free agent. He turned down a salary arbitration offer from the Astros, so they would receive compensation for his departure in this year's amateur draft.