Jose Veras Rumors

Astros Sign Jose Veras To Minors Deal

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.


Braves Release Jose Veras

The Braves have released right-hander Jose Veras, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports (via Twitter).  The veteran reliever was in camp on a minor league deal with the team, signed in February.

Veras posted a 4.50 ERA, 9.8 K/9 and 1.85 K/BB rate in 46 combined innings with the Cubs and Astros last year, with most of the damage coming during a horrendous April (10 runs in 5 2/3 innings) that cost him his job as Chicago’s closer.  He hadn’t looked good in six Spring Training appearances for Atlanta, posting an 11.81 ERA and seven walks in 5 1/3 innings of work.

Despite Veras’ rough spring, his solid track record in recent years should make him a target for clubs looking to add some bullpen depth.  Veras was talking to at least four clubs during the offseason, including the Astros, so it seems likely that a market will exist for his services on another minor league deal.  It’s worth nothing that Veras is an Article XX(B) free agent, so in releasing him now, the Braves avoid the question of paying him a $100K retention bonus to keep him in the organization if he hadn’t made the Opening Day roster.


Braves, Jose Veras Agree To Minor League Deal

The Braves and right-hander Jose Veras have agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league Spring Training, reports MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (on Twitter).

With the exception of a 13 1/3 inning stint as the Cubs’ closer, Veras has been largely effective over the past two seasons. The Praver/Shapiro client pitched to a 3.02 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 62 2/3 innings between the Astros and Tigers in 2013, registering 21 saves while serving as Houston’s closer. Upon his release from the Cubs in 2014 (which came on the heels of a ghastly 12 earned runs allowed in those 13 1/3 innings), Veras went back to Houston and worked to a 3.03 ERA with 37 strikeouts against 16 walks in 32 2/3 innings of work.

Veras had previously said he hoped to return to the Astros — an organization that has come to feel like home for him. However, Houston was but one of four teams with whom he was speaking at the time, and it appears that the Braves presented a better opportunity for the 34-year-old. He’ll compete for a spot in a revamped bullpen that has seen David Carpenter, Jordan Walden and David Hale depart via trade. In their place, Jason Grilli, Jim Johnson and Josh Outman have been added on Major League deals. Veras will look to join that trio, as well as elite closer Craig Kimbrel, lefty James Russell and righty Shae Simmons in manager Fredi Gonzalez’s bullpen.



Astros Among Teams Talking With Jose Veras

Right-hander Jose Veras has made his desire to return to the Astros a known fact this offseason, and the former Houston closer tells Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle that the ‘Stros are indeed one of four clubs to whom he is currently speaking.

Veras excelled as Houston’s closer in 2013, pitching to a 2.93 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 43 first-half innings before being traded to the Tigers that July. Veras pitched reasonably well down the stretch but, to the surprise of some, had his option bought out by the Tigers and again tested the open market.

Last winter, on the heels of his strong 2013, Veras signed a one-year, $4MM contract with the Cubs. However, he struggled tremendously in Chicago, allowing 12 runs in 13 1/3 innings before being released and latching back on with the Astros, where he again pitched quite well. All told, he has a 2.97 ERA with an 81-to-30 K/BB ratio between his two seasons with Houston.

Veras tells Drellich that he made a “mistake” by leaving Houston in the first place, considering how much he enjoyed his time there, and he’s willing to return in any role: “I’m available to do anything. Be it closer, throw the eighth, throw the seventh. I just want to be on the team (where) I feel like a family, like I feel here. That all these guys respect me, I respect them, I love them, even though we don’t win 100 games like we maybe want to do.”


AL West Notes: Masterson, Rangers, Cabrera

The very latest from the AL West..

  • The Rangers have made their first real bid for a starting free agent pitcher by extending a contract offer to Justin Masterson, a source tells Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News.  The market for the hurler is robust, however, so there might not be anything imminent on that front.
  • The Mariners appear to be the favorites on Melky Cabrera, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  Heyman adds that the idea that Cabrera would prefer to avoid going out West appears to be a non-factor now and sources say that he’s fine with it.  The White Sox, Giants, and Royals have also been linked to Cabrera, but Seattle appears to be the team to beat at this time.
  • Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow says he is “absolutely” open to bringing Jose Veras back, as Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes.  Veras has previously stated his desire to return to Houston.

AL West Notes: Hammel, Veras, A’s, Daniels

The Astros are one of roughly 12 teams who have checked in with free agent righty Jason Hammel, the Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich reports.  While Hammel makes sense for a lot of teams as a less-expensive option behind some of the pricier names on the pitching market, he seems like a particularly solid fit for an Astros team that is looking to upgrade its rotation without expending a lot of payroll.  MLBTR’s Jeff Todd, in his Free Agent Profile of Hammel, predicted the right-hander would receive a three-year, $30MM deal this winter — exactly what Houston spent to sign Scott Feldman last offseason.

Here’s some more from around the AL West…

  • Also from Drellich, Jose Veras‘ Barry Praver says his client is interested in returning to the Astros next season.
  • The Athletics have called about free agent shortstops Asdrubal Cabrera and Stephen Drew, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports.  Shortstop is an area of need for Oakland this winter with incumbent Jed Lowrie also a free agent.
  • Rangers GM Jon Daniels told reports (including Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News) that the team could consider trading from its shortstop depth.  “Its an area of strength for us. We’ve talked about the possibility for a while. We just have to decide if now is the time to make a move there,” Daniels said.  Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar are the two biggest names yet a deal involving either player wouldn’t be likely until Spring Training, when Profar can show that he’s healthy after shoulder injuries sidelined him for all of the 2014 season.  Earlier today, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that the Yankees were “intrigued” by Andrus.  Prospects Luis Sardinas and Hanser Alberto could also be trade chips, either in small deals or as parts of larger trade packages.
  • Two sources tell Evan Grant that Colby Lewis will likely re-sign with the Rangers.  Daniels said that if he “had to guess, I think it gets done,” though noted that Lewis has “never been healthy and a true free agent before.  This is the first real chance he’s had to find out his true value.”
  • Kevin Jepsen could be a trade candidate if the Angels wanted to deal from their right-handed relief surplus, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez opines.  Jepsen has two more years of control left as a Super Two player, and his rising price tag could make him expendable for the Halos, Gonzalez speculates.

Astros To Sign Jose Veras

The Astros have agreed to sign right-hander Jose Veras to a minor league deal, tweets Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.  Veras will report to Kissimmee, Florida to gear up before heading to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Veras, 33, was designated for assignment by the Cubs earlier this month and subsequently released.  The veteran was signed to serve as Chicago’s closer after the Tigers declined to pick up his club option, but things did not work out as planned.

The Cubs gave Veras a $4MM guarantee (between this year’s salary and a $150K buyout for a 2015 club option at $5.5MM) and in return he gave the club a 8.10 ERA across 13 1/3 innings with 8.8 K/9 against 7.4 BB/9 and missed 17 games with an oblique strain.

The deal brings Veras back to where he did some of the best work in his career.  In 42 outings in 2013, Veras posted a 2.93 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 as the team’s closer.


Cubs Release Jose Veras

June 10: Veras has been released, tweets Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune.

June 3: The Cubs have designated reliever Jose Veras for assignment, tweets Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald. The 33-year-old veteran was signed to serve as Chicago’s closer after the Tigers declined to pick up his club option.

Veras represents a fairly significant miss for the Cubs front office. He was given a $4MM guarantee, including this year’s salary and a $150K buyout for a 2015 club option at $5.5MM. In addition to putting a consistent presence at the back of the bullpen, the Cubs no doubt considered the possibility of dangling Veras at the trade deadline.

But that was not to be. Across 13 1/3 innings on the season, Veras has worked to a 8.10 ERA with 8.8 K/9 against 7.4 BB/9. Adding injury to insult, he then missed 17 games with an oblique strain. But Veras was actually much better upon his return from the DL. Since May 15, he has thrown 7 2/3 innings and allowed just two earned runs and a walk while setting down eight batters on strikes.


Cubs Notes: Trades, Veras, Draft

Here’s the latest out of Wrigleyville …

  • At this early stage of the year, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer says that there is very little action in terms of trade discussion, tweets Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald. As Miles writes in another piece, Hoyer also said that the club “should be better than [its] record,” but has suffered through some tough losses. Of course, barring a big surprise, the expectation all along has been that Chicago would shop several of the veterans on its roster, and the team’s current nine-game division deficit only increases that likelihood. Pitcher Jason Hammel, the versatile Emilio Bonifacio, and of course staff ace Jeff Samardzija are all off to starts that make them look like attractive trade targets.
  • One other player that seemed destined to be a July mover was reliever Jose Veras, who the Cubs inked to take over the closer role. But his struggles on the mound and with an oblique injury have clouded both his outlook as a trade chip and the team’s closer situation, as MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat writes. The team will look to “develop a closer from one of the guys we have on the roster,” says Hoyer. The GM added that Veras’s struggles “show[] you the perils of free agency,” though he added that he hopes the 33-year-old veteran will sort himself out.
  • The draft is no doubt the focus of the Chicago front office at the moment, as the team holds the fourth overall choice. While we heard recently that the club would take the best player available, it will surely be enticed by the possibility of adding a top-flight pitching prospect in a draft that has several at the top of the board. As Muskat writes, aiding Hoyer and president of baseball ops Theo Epstein in breaking down the young arms will be former Cub standouts Kerry Wood and Ted Lilly“The plan is to have those guys in the draft room when we convene,” said Hoyer. “It’s good for us to hear their opinions, and it’s good for their development to go out and see these guys.”

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Cubs Sign Jose Veras

The Cubs caught lightning in a bottle with a revitalized Kevin Gregg for much of the 2013 season, but they'll have a more consistent option in place next season in the form of Jose Veras. Chicago officially announced the signing of Veras to a one-year deal with a club option for the 2015 season today. The Praver/Shapiro client will reportedly earn $3.85MM and has a $150K buyout on a $5.5MM option, making a total guarantee of $4MM. Veras, who will serve as Chicago's closer, can also earn $750K worth of incentives based on games finished.

Veras

The 33-year-old posted a 3.02 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 with a 41.8 percent ground-ball rate in 62 2/3 innings between the Astros and Tigers, collecting a career-high 21 saves along the way.  The right-hander drew interest from multiple clubs this offseason including the Rockies and Astros.

Veras spent the first four months of the season as Houston's closer before being shipped to the Tigers in July for outfield prospect Danry Vasquez and a player to be named later who turned out to be right-hander David Paulino.  Detroit turned down a $4MM option on the veteran, but he would up getting the same guaranteed money out of the Cubs, plus a $150K buyout from Detroit, $750K of incentives from Chicago and a chance at a healthy raise in 2015.

Though Gregg served as Chicago's closer for much of the season, the team relied on a number of late-inning options that did not fare well. Carlos Marmol struggled once again, Shawn Camp was unable to replicate his 2012 magic and found himself released and Japanese acquisition Kyuji Fujikawa wound up requiring Tommy John surgery after just 12 innings with the Cubs. Veras will join Pedro Strop, James Russell, Blake Parker, Wesley Wright and presumably Carlos Villanueva in the Cubs' bullpen. Other internal options include Arodys VizcainoHector Rondon, Brooks Raley and Justin Grimm. Fujikawa should return at some point this season as well.

The Astros were said to be pushing hard to get Veras back in the organization and the fondness seemed mutual.  "It feels like family there," Veras said of Houston.  "It’s a young team and they’re hungry to win. I feel part of the team. I doesn’t mater to me if we won or lose. When you play as a team and everybody cares, that’s the best part for me."  Alas, Veras will be moving on to a new club, his eighth team in the past six seasons.

Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com first reported the $4MM guarantee and the $5.5MM club option (via Twitter). Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported Veras' exact 2014 salary, the additional incentives and his 2015 buyout. Heyman also reported that Veras will serve as Chicago's closer (All Twitter links).

Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.