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41 players for 40 spots: Who leaves when Jose Valverde signs?

As of this post, the Detroit Tigers and Jose Valverde have only been reported to have a deal, pending physical. The ink has not yet met paper, as far as we know.

But when it does, the Tigers have a problem. They'll need to make room for Jose Valverde on the 40-man roster, which is currently full.

So who leaves when Valverde signs? And by leaves, that could mean anything. It doesn't necessarily mean they will no longer be a member of the organization, but the possibility is there. Another option: maybe the Tigers trade the player for cash, a minor leaguer or a PTBNL.

Here are a few possibilities:

SP Dontrelle Willis -- In his two seasons with the Tigers, he has done little. Is there reason to believe he has overcome his anxiety enough to pitch effectively for the Tigers? (Is there insurance on this contract that helps the Tigers regain some of the money lost by his inability to pitch?) If the answer to the questions is "no," maybe it's time for him to go.

SP Jay Sborz -- It felt like a nice cheap investment to add Sborz to the 40-man roster last fall, but it's obvious the Tigers seem to be going in a different direction. Maybe they keep him around with hopes he'll crack the rotation at some point this season, though.

RP Brad Thomas -- The lefty reliever was signed out of Korea as the Winter Meetings began in December, reportedly for up to $1 million. Maybe that money is only guaranteed if he is on the roster at the cutoff point near the end of spring training. Or maybe he'll be traded. I haven't seen details reported. As of right now, this signing makes less sense than ever before.

SP/RP Eddie Bonine -- He pitched terrific for a stretch near the end of last season, but it's hard to figure out what his role is with the franchise now. Insurance in case none of the rotation candidates work out? Insurance in case long-man Zach Miner is injured? Who knows.

RP Casey Fien -- Despite some potential, he stumbled in his auditions last season. Maybe the Tigers have seen enough. A 7.94 ERA and poor peripherals do not give confidence, but he only had an 11-inning look. It is probably be too early to ditch him. On the other hand, there are plenty of other relievers bubbling up in the system.

Utility Don Kelly -- Superutility man, but probably not as good as other backup options in the outfield or infield. It's hard to find a role for him unless injuries become a problem.

My take

I really hope the Tigers work out some sort of a trade, but I doubt the return for any of these players would be too much unless the Tigers added a few chips to the table.

While Willis makes the most sense, given his past inability to contribute, the Tigers have had many opportunities to remove him from the roster and have not done so. I think he stays. It also wouldn't make any sense for them to release Sborz or Thomas before even seeing them in action.

So if they do go the direction of a pitcher, it means they'll be giving up on someone like Fien or Bonine. Make no mistake, they have value. But I don't think either would be the end of the world for the Tigers. They are what they are, at this point in their careers. Useful, but not key.

On the other hand, I think Kelly has some value, but the Tigers probably wouldn't miss his services too badly either. So they could go that direction, too.

In any case, I wouldn't be too upset.