Valverde's contract was of a speculative nature. The Tigers gave him a chance this spring on a minor league deal that could become a major league deal that could pay off nicely if Valverde managed to return to the mound remotely like the pitcher he was when he was perfect as a closer in 2011.
Unfortunately, that never proved to be the case. He found some success, holding an ERA of 0.75 at one point in May, but fell apart since then. His ERA in June was nearly 10 when batters began to square up on him and put it out of the park.
This, of course, came as little surprise. I wrote in the Detroit News in May:
But when batters come to the plate knowing what to expect, it's only a matter of time before they start to tee off on him like they did last October.
Valverde seems like an affable figure, and the vitriol many fans targeted at him was unfair given the good seasons he had in Detroit.
If the story is to have a happier ending in 2013, Valverde must be a more dynamic pitcher than he has been so far.
That never happened.
Last Wednesday may have been the breaking point -- Valverde was tasked with finishing one more game after allowing a run in a blown save that day -- but giving up a home run and four runs to the Orioles earlier this week didn't help. That marked his last appearance in the Detroit uniform.
Jim Leyland has all but named Joaquin Benoit his closer, and the team is moving on. It's unfortunate that things didn't work out with Valverde, a happy kind of player who even after losing his job was happily celebrating Jhonny Peralta's home run by dumping the Gatorade bucket on him Thursday.
But this is for the best. Valverde didn't have it -- and he's unlikely to have it again. The Tigers did what they had to do.