Right-hander Jose Veras is on his way back to the Astros, as the club announced (Twitter link) that it has signed the veteran reliever to a minor league contract. The Praver/Shapiro client will report to extended Spring Training, according to the team. With the minor league deal in place, the 34-year-old Veras will attempt to return to the Astros for his third separate stint in the past three seasons.
The first of those stints in Houston came in 2013, when Veras signed a one-year, $1.85MM contract and wound up thriving as the Astros’ closer. He posted an excellent 2.93 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 43 innings for Houston that season — a performance that made him a popular trade target in July. The Tigers send outfield prospect Danry Vasquez and hard-throwing-but-injured relief prospect David Paulino to Houston to acquire Veras and the club option on his contract. Veras’ performance, however, boosted the value of the option from $3.25MM to $4MM by way of incentives, and the Tigers made the somewhat surprising decision to pay him a $150K buyout, letting him hit free agency once again.
Veras signed with the Cubs in the 2013-14 offseason, but his tenure in Chicago was brief, at best. Brought on board to be the team’s closer, he instead posted a dreadful 8.10 ERA in 13 1/3 innings with the Cubs and was quickly jettisoned. That led to a return to Houston, where he again found success, notching a 3.03 ERA with 10.2 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9 in 32 2/3 innings.
Veras said after returning to Houston that he regretted signing elsewhere, and he said at the outset of this past offseason that he hoped to return to the Astros, which feels like “home” to him. Houston had talks with the righty this winter, but it’s not clear if an offer was ever made. He wound up signing with the Braves and being cut in Spring Training.
In his career, Veras has had no problem missing bats but does struggle with his control at times. He is the owner of a lifetime 3.91 ERA with a strong 9.3 K/9 rate, but he’s also averaged 4.7 walks per nine innings in his career. Houston will hope that it can receive a third season of positive results from the veteran righty, who could help strengthen what has already been a sound bullpen, anchored by the likes of Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek and Chad Qualls.