The Detroit Tigers have designated Jose Valverde for assignment, the team announced on Friday after Jim Leyland demoted the right-hander from the closer's role the day before. Al Alburquerque was called up from AAA Toledo to take Valverde's place in the bullpen.
Valverde had a 5.59 ERA in 20 games this season and has blown three saves, converting just six more than he's dropped. The low point came on Wednesday, however, when Valverde allowed four runs on five hits in mop-up duty, prompting Leyland to drop him as the Tigers' closer.
Valderde was excellent as the Detroit closer in 2011, but struggled throughout 2012. The Tigers decided to give the 35-year-old a minor league deal this spring, however, with the hope that he'd regain his old form. Valverde did show some flashes of success in May, but it wasn't enough to outweigh his struggles.
Leyland told the media that he wouldn't name a new closer, but he then later said that Joaquin Benoit would essentially serve as the team's closer ... even if it doesn't come with the title.
"I'm going to try to close with Benoit when healthy and available," Leyland told the Detroit Free Press. "So that means Benoit would be the closer if he's able to pitch, hasn't pitched too much, hasn't been overused, and we have a chance to win the game."
Regardless of the current Valverde situation, the Tigers' bullpen was a mess all season, ranking 23rd in the majors in ERA with nine blown saves in 25 chances.