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 Tigers exercise '13 options on Peralta, Dotel

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PostSubject: Tigers exercise '13 options on Peralta, Dotel   Wed Oct 31, 2012 2:15 am

Tigers exercise '13 options on Peralta, Dotel

By Jason Beck / | 10/30/12 6:29 PM ET

DETROIT -- For the first time in four years, Octavio Dotel won't be changing teams. Jhonny Peralta, whose future in Detroit looked like it was in serious question in September, will also return to the Tigers.

On the day the Tigers announced their contract extension with manager Jim Leyland, the club also got its lingering contract options out of the way on Tuesday, picking up the option years on Dotel and Peralta.

Both players would have been free agents otherwise, but both went into the postseason with uncertain futures. In the end, they'll be part of a Tigers team that will stay relatively intact for 2013 as it tries to defend its American League title.
Dotel had a $3.5 million option or $500,000 buyout on the one-year deal he signed as a free agent last year. It looked like a bargain for 58 innings of quality relief with 62 strikeouts, as the veteran reliever will provide depth to Detroit's bullpen and a proven arm in the seventh and eighth innings.

Dotel racked up 11 holds and a save in 2012, blowing three opportunities. In the postseason, he tossed five hitless innings over six postseason appearances, walking five and striking out six.

Dotel made it clear Sunday night after the World Series closed that he wanted to return.

"I'm very excited and I hope they pick up my option," Dotel said. "I hope I can come back here. Hey, if you see it, we've got an unbelievable starting rotation right now. ... This is the team I want to be with in 2013."

Dotel's performance over the course of the season made it a pretty easy decision, despite speculation that he could pay for his recent remarks about the team needing energy or his remarks to Miguel Cabrera about needing to talk to the media during the AL Division Series.

"He's getting older, but he still threw the ball well," team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "His arm strength is getting good. It's for one year. The outspoken nature, he's a good guy, he spoke his mind and what he felt. We didn't have any problem with that."

Dotel's role takes on added importance with the Tigers' decision to potentially go with a closer by committee next season, or stay in-house with one of their current relievers to close full time.

If the Tigers buck all that and turn to hard-throwing prospect Bruce Rondon to close, Dotel could be in a position to play a mentoring role, having closed at various points in his big league career.

Compared with Dotel's option, the $6 million option on Peralta for next season looked like a far more complicated decision.

After an All-Star season in 2011, the 30-year-old Peralta saw a 60-point drop in batting average and more than twice that in OPS. He hit just .218 after the All-Star break, including .173 in September. Defensively, though Peralta generally made the plays he got to, his range and his arm seemed to suffer.

Then came the postseason. Not only did Peralta have a boost at the plate -- he went 13-for-50 with three home runs, five RBIs and five runs scored -- he made one rangy play after another at short. Nobody, not even Peralta, seemed to have an answer why, though some speculated that Peralta's family situation over the summer -- his wife gave birth to twins in June -- weighed on his mind.

Dombrowski provided some insight on that Tuesday during the question-and-answer session that he does at the end of each season.

"The second half of the year, he started doing some more agility drills," Dombrowski said, "and I think it showed an improvement. We talked about him doing that this winter time to help him improve to make the effort to help with the quickness of his feet."

Dombrowski also cited a sharp drop in his at-bats with runners in scoring position as a reason for his drop in RBIs.

All of that could improve with another season. However, even with Peralta's option picked up, Dombrowski didn't flat-out eliminate the possibility the Tigers make a move for another shortstop if the right possibility emerges.

"You're always looking to get better," Dombrowski said, "but when you look at the obvious alternatives at this time -- because you don't know what else is out there -- I don't know where that obvious alternative is."

One possibility could have been Stephen Drew, with whom the Tigers have been linked in past trade rumors. Drew is now a free agent after Oakland declined his $10 million option for next season. However, the Tigers didn't seriously pursue Drew over the summer, when Arizona eventually traded him.

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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