Jose Veras Rumors
Since the beginning of the 2011 season, there are only 14 relievers who have posted a K/9 greater than 10.0 with a ground-ball rate of 40 percent or better. It's not surprising to see established relief aces like Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters and Sergio Romo on that list, but some might be surprised to see Jose Veras' name in the mix.
Not only is Veras in the mix, he's second in the group in terms of innings pitched with 169 (John Axford ranks first with 172). Veras has generated little fanfare in recent years, but he's shown the capability to maintain an elite strikeout rate over an extended period of time.
Though his ERA is an uninspiring 4.06, Veras' other numbers look strong. He's punched out 36 hitters in 31 innings (10.5 K/9) while showing the best ground-ball and walk rates of his career. FIP feels that his ERA should be 3.96, xFIP suggests a 3.74 ERA going forward and SIERA is even more bullish at 3.02.
The biggest red flag with Veras has typically been his control, but he's posted a respectable 3.8 BB/9 thus far in 2013, and his 60.3 percent first-pitch strike rate is the highest of his career. It's probably no coincidence that by getting ahead in the count more often, he's been able to up his swinging-strike rate to 10.2 percent.
The 32-year-old Veras signed a one-year deal with the Astros this winter that calls for an affordable $1.85MM base salary and also contains a club option for $3.25MM. His contract also carries incentives based on games finished that could raise this year's salary by $500K and push the option's value north of $4MM.
Veras' control problems have kept him from reaching the elite status among relievers, but his mix of strikeouts and ground-balls is a desirable skill set nonetheless. Add to the mix a contract that is significantly more affordable than that of marquee trade candidates like Jonathan Papelbon and an extra year of team control, and it's logical to expect that Veras will be wearing a new uniform come August 1.
The Astros have made no effort to hide the fact that they're willing to move just about any player on their roster as they completely re-tool the franchise, and Veras should be no exception. He won't fetch an elite prospect in return, but a contending team looking to shore up the eighth or even ninth inning could view Veras as an upgrade, particularly if he has a strong few weeks leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline. The Royals were able to nab Cincinnati's No. 12 and No. 27 prospects (per Baseball America) in exchange for a few months of Jonathan Broxton last season. Broxton had better superficial stats at the time, but a prospect in the middle of a team's Top 30 doesn't seem out of the question for Veras.
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4:10pm: The Astros plan to give Veras the chance to close, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The right-hander’s contract includes significant incentives based on games finished that could increase his $1.85MM salary by $500K. Depending on Veras’ games finished total next year, the value of the 2014 option could increase to the $4-5.5MM range, Rosenthal reports.
1:17pm: The Astros announced that they have signed right-handed reliever Jose Veras to a one-year contract. The deal is worth $2MM, according to Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes, who first reported the agreement (on Twitter). The deal includes a 2013 salary of $1.85MM and a 2014 option worth $3.25MM with a $150K buyout. Praver/Shapiro represents Veras.
Veras, 32, elected to become a free agent last month after the Brewers outrighted him off of their 40-man roster. The move amounted to an early non-tender for Veras, who had a projected salary of $2.6MM.
In 72 appearances for Milwaukee in 2012, Veras posted a 3.63 ERA with 10.6 K/9, 5.4 BB/9 and a 43.8% ground ball rate in 67 innings. The seven-year veteran has a career ERA of 4.01 with 9.4 K/9, 4.9 BB/9 and a 39.4% ground ball rate. He averaged 93.8 mph with his fastball this past season, generating swings and misses 9% of the time.
Jason Giambi was a surprise candidate to become the Rockies' next manager, but now that the job has gone to Walt Weiss, the team has offered Giambi the job of hitting coach, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Giambi had said he would continue playing if he wasn't hired as manager, though he's taking a few days to consider Colorado's offer. If he turns it down and wants to keep playing, agent Joel Wolfe tells ESPN's Jerry Crasnick that "several teams" have shown interest in his client, who will be 42 years old on Opening Day.
Here are some more items from a very busy day around baseball...
- Robinson Cano believes he has already signed one team-friendly contract with the Yankees and will look for market value in his next deal, a "confidant" of the second baseman tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Cano's last contract with the Yankees ended up paying him $57MM over six years once New York exercised its two club options for 2012 and 2013.
- The Blue Jays' waiver claim of Bobby Wilson as catching depth "suggests J.P. Arencibia is in play on the trade market," writes Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi.
- Also from Davidi, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said that Mike Aviles drew "pretty good demand...the Indians weren't the only team that asked about him," before the infielder was traded to Cleveland last weekend.
- Though Phillies GM Ruben Amaro said earlier today that he preferred signing players to making trades this offseason, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News thinks the trade market might be the best way for the Phils to solve some roster problems.
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto likes his core of position players, leaving Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times to conclude that the Halos will pursue rotation depth through free agency, not trades.
- Jose Veras has switched agents, going from Bryce Dixon to the Praver Shapiro agency, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The veteran righty chose to become a free agent after he was outrighted off the Brewers' 40-man roster.
- Minor league free agent Collin Balester is "in demand," reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (via Twitter). Balester, 26, had a 6.50 ERA in 11 relief outings for the Tigers last season but posted strong numbers at Triple-A Toledo.
It was on this day in 1962 that Joe Morgan signed his first pro contract, joining the Houston Colt .45s as an amateur free agent. Morgan spent his first nine seasons in Houston before being traded to the Reds and establishing himself as arguably the best second baseman in baseball history.
Here's the latest from the NL Central...
- Cubs GM Jed Hoyer confirmed to ESPN Chicago's Doug Padilla that the team had made "contact and it was preliminary" with Ryan Dempster, though Hoyer was quick to minimize the importance of the meeting, saying "it was sort of a bump-into thing." It was reported earlier today by MLB.com's Carrie Muskat that the Cubs had been in touch with Dempster's agent.
- "We’ve got the connection with (hitting coach) Johnny Narron but we don’t have the connection with U.S. Bank,” Brewers GM Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about the chances of the Brewers splurging on Josh Hamilton this winter. Melvin noted that he would like to acquire relief pitching this offseason but was wary given the rising prices of quality bullpen arms.
- Also from Haudricourt, he hears from Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash that the club has no plans to re-sign either right-hander Jose Veras or outfielder Nyjer Morgan, both of whom were outrighted off Milwaukee's 40-man roster over the last two days.
- The Cardinals have signed 16-year-old Dominican outfielder Henry Alvarado to a $150K contract, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America. Alvarado is described as being best suited to left field or possibly first base, and he "stands out for his righthanded bat, sound approach and occasional power."
The latest outright assignments...
- The Astros announced that Fernando Abad, Sergio Escalona, Edgar Gonzalez, Jose Valdez, Kyle Weiland and the recently-DFA'ed Matt Downs have been outrighted to Triple-A. All will become free agents except Weiland, who has been placed on the Triple-A roster.
- The Brewers have outrighted Nyjer Morgan to Triple-A, the team announced. Morgan was a key part of the Brewers' NL Central-winning team in 2011 but struggled last season, hitting .239/.302/.308 and getting less playing time in the Milwaukee outfield. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes recently projected Morgan as a non-tender candidate.
- The Brewers also confirmed that Jose Veras has elected to become a free agent after being outrighted off the 40-man roster yesterday.
- The Braves outrighted right-hander Erik Cordier to Triple-A, Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports (Twitter link). The 26-year-old pitched at three levels this past season, posting a 5.85 ERA with 7.5 K/9 in 32 1/3 total innings. He walked 32 of the 155 batters he faced, however. The Braves announced that they also outrighted catcher J.C. Boscan and left-hander Robert Fish off of the 40-man roster. Boscan elected free agency, according to the team.
7:41pm: McCalvy hears that Veras is still going through the waivers process, so he is not a free agent just yet (Twitter link).
7:10pm: Right-hander Jose Veras has elected free agency after being outrighted off the Brewers' 40-man roster, agent Bryce Dixon told MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. The right-hander would have remained under team control in 2013 as an arbitration-eligible player.
Veras, 32, pitched to a 3.63 ERA with 10.6 K/9 and 5.4 BB/9 in 67 innings for Milwaukee this season. They acquired him from the Pirates last winter for Casey McGehee, who, coincidentally enough, also elected free agency today.
- The Pirates have moved Kevin Correia to the bullpen to make room for Wandy Rodriguez in the rotation and Correia isn't thrilled about it, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Angels could be interested in acquiring the California native, who says that he hopes to get back to being a starter.
- As it stands now, Greinke is scheduled to pitch against the Nationals on Sunday, but Nats skipper Davey Johnson doesn't expect to see the right-hander on the hill, writes Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. "I'd be real surprised," Johnson said. "I know in the past if a ballclub's intent on making a move, you're not going to pitch him two days before the deadline."
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com handicaps the most likely destinations for Greinke and the Rangers top the list with 9-5 odds. The Red Sox are categorized as a longshot with 100-1 odds.
- Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (via Twitter) believes that someone will bite on the Pirates' Kevin Correia as he is owed just $1MM for the rest of the year. The Bucs are reportedly sending signals that they could part with Correia after acquiring Wandy Rodriguez.
- Teams have expressed interest in Corey Hart and Aramis Ramirez, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. However, the Brewers would be have to be overwhelmed to trade either player.
- Brewers relievers Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Veras, Manny Parra and Kameron Loe had been drawing interest, but their value “tanked” following a poor showing in Philadelphia this week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter).
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow suggested to Rosenthal that absorbing salary can help Houston obtain better prospects in trades. “In this environment, you’re limited in how much money you can spend on the draft, how much you can spend internationally,” Luhnow said, referring to the rules regulating amateur spending in baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement.
- Pitching prospect Shelby Miller is available in trade talks, yet the Cardinals don't appear anxious to make an impact deal, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports (on Twitter).
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a new Full Count video up, so let's round up the rumors...
- The chances of the Phillies trading Shane Victorino may be greater than the chances of them trading Cole Hamels. The Dodgers, Reds, and possibly the Yankees could be fits for the outfielder, who originally asked Philadelphia for a five-year extension. They're unwilling to give him a contract that long.
- The Red Sox are likely to be one of the most active teams at the trade deadline. If they keep Franklin Morales in the rotation, they're likely to seek another left-hander for the bullpen. They could also acquire a starter and shift Morales back into a relief role.
- The Braves are not as adamant about not trading their top young pitchers as they were at this time last year mostly because there are more appealing choices on the market. They're looking for consistency and could part with one of Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, or Randall Delgado if they view someone like Matt Garza as a difference-maker.
- The Brewers remain more likely to sell than not, but they would still like to return to contention quickly. They could ask for big league pitching instead of prospects for Zack Greinke, plus Francisco Rodriguez figures to have value on the trade market. GM Doug Melvin is getting calls about John Axford and Jose Veras, and the trio of Randy Wolf, George Kottaras, and Shaun Marcum (if healthy) remain trade bait.
- Both the Brewers and agent Bryce Dixon used Kameron Loe's recent $2.175MM agreement to argue their respective cases in the Veras hearing, MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports.
- It's been 25 days since the arbitration hearing for Ryan Braun's appeal of a positive drug test began, but the soft deadline passed without a decision, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. A decision is expected within ten days.
- The Pirates were impressed by Dmitri Young's workout yesterday, but they won't offer him a contract, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweets. Manager Clint Hurdle said he got a good read on the the 38-year-old after yesterday’s workout.
- The Astros have already seen Scott Kazmir throw, so they don't intend to watch him audition in front of scouts tomorrow, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com tweets.
The Brewers announced that they beat Jose Veras in yesterday's arbitration hearing. The right-hander will earn $2MM in 2012, instead of the $2.375MM his agent Bryce Dixon had requested.
Veras posted a 3.80 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9 in 71 innings of relief for the 2011 Pirates. The 31-year-old will remain under team control through 2013. The Brewers have now signed all of their arbitration eligible players for 2012, as MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported the news on Twitter.