DALLAS -- The Tigers found the man they wanted to shore up the middle of their bullpen, and Octavio Dotel found another new home. They found a match, and the two sides spent Wednesday evening putting together a one-year contract.
The deal was not finalized as of late Wednesday evening, but a baseball source characterized it as close. It's expected to include an option for the 2013 season, a compromise between the multiyear contract Dotel was seeking and the one-year deal the Tigers preferred.
The Tigers have a policy of not confirming contracts until a physical has been completed. That likely won't happen until after the Winter Meetings have concluded at the Hilton Anatole hotel.
The 38-year-old Dotel will be playing for his 13th Major League team, and his third in the American League Central, but he has been a Tigers target on several occasions over the last five years. He'll finally get his shot in a seventh-inning role to bridge the gap between Detroit's starting rotation and the late-inning duo of setup man Joaquin Benoit and closer Jose Valverde.
Dotel's pursuit was down to two teams by Wednesday evening, pitting the Tigers against the Cardinals. Dotel won a World Series this fall in St. Louis, and by all accounts felt a strong pull to go back. However, the chance to win in Detroit, and the strong Latin presence in the clubhouse, helped draw Dotel to the Tigers after they began courting him a couple weeks ago.
Dotel went 5-4 with a 3.50 ERA in 65 games between the Blue Jays and Cardinals, having switched sides in a Trade Deadline swap. His secondary statistics were borderline dominant, having allowed just 36 hits over 54 innings with 17 walks and 62 strikeouts. He allowed just eight of 50 inherited runners to score, and he held opponents to a .185 batting average.
It was Dotel's fourth straight season with at least 62 appearances, defying any notion of an aging reliever. He might not get that many chances in a bullpen that includes workhorse left-hander Phil Coke and high-strikeout righty Al Alburquerque among middle relief options, but he'll get meaningful work.
Manager Jim Leyland called Dotel at some point during the Winter Meetings, according to a source. While team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski called the opening "another arm," it was clear they were looking for a proven talent to provide stability.
"If there's one area, after we signed [Gerald] Laird, after we signed [Ramon] Santiago back, if there's one area that probably received a little more focus than us than others, it's been trying to tweak that bullpen," Dombrowski told reporters Wednesday afternoon during his regularly scheduled media session.
"We've been looking at a lot of different [bullpen] options, but we do have priorities at this point."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.