There have been a lot of moves during this Tigers off season, whether it be the blockbuster Prince Fielder /Ian Kinsler trade or the dealing of Doug Fister to the WashingtonNationals, it seems as though these past few months have come with a great deal of change for the Detroit Tigers. But hidden within the clouds of these few mega deals is one that has not received as much attention as others; and that is the Tigers not signing Jose Veras back for the 2014 season. As many of us know, Veras came to the Tigers just before the 2013 trade deadline in a deal with the Houston Astros and became one of the more reliable arms out of the bullpen down the stretch. Veras' option for the 2014 season was worth 4 million dollars, but the Tigers declined it. Just a little less than a month after this move, the club signed former Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain to a 1 year/ 2.5 million dollar contract. But why would the Tigers sign Chamberlain and not Jose Veras?
Joba Chamberlain, originally drafted by the Yankees in the first round of the 2006 Amateur Draft, is currently 28 years old. During his younger days, he was somewhat unstoppable. But a few seasons and a few DL stints later, Chamberlain is not even close to his younger self. In 2012, he made 22 appearances with a 4.35 ERA; which is not fantastic but he did his part. His high ERA is also understandable due to his small number of appearances. Fast forward to the 2013 season and he mad 45 appearances, almost double from the previous year. And much like his number of games, his ERA rose as well as it ballooned to 4.93. And on top of his increased ERA, his velocity has dropped from a triple digit fastball to a low 90's fastball. But on the brighter side, Chamberlains slider has shown improvement over the years. But his slider may not be enough to justify his signing over fan favorite Jose Veras. Sure, Veras struggled in the playoffs but that is not enough reason to decline his option.
Now lets take a look at the case for Jose Veras, whom is currently 33 years old and has played for a decent number of teams, including the Milwaukee Brewers, Cleveland Indians, and New York Yankees. During his 2012 season, he made 72 appearances with a 3.63 ERA, which is right around Chamberlain's, but with almost double the appearances. And in Veras' 2013 season he made a total of 67 appearances, 42 with Houston and 25 with Detroit. His ERA during 2013 ranged anywhere from 2.93 to 3.20. Along with a respectable ERA, Veras has a high 90's fastball and a mid 80's slider. While his numbers are just a notch better than Chamberlain's, it's the idea that he is much more reliable, much better in high pressure situations, and much more of a leader.
While they both have positives and negatives, Veras seems to be the better option for the Tigers. Not only does he have a better track record than Chamberlain, but he has become one of the more reliable bullpen arms over the past few years as where Joba Chamberlain hasn't proven that he shouldeven be on a Major League roster. While Veras is the more expensive option, he is well worth the money. According to the numbers and past statistics, Veras is the better option, it all came down to personal preference. Tigers GM David Dombrowski said " no offense to Jose Veras, because he’s a solid guy and we liked him and we had a chance to bring him back. We like Joba. We like his abilities. We had our choice with a lot of guys out there on one-year deals, maybe even a two-year deal in a few cases. We’ve liked him in the past. Our scouts like him."
Essentially, what Dombrowski is saying is that the two are both respectable pitchers, but in the end they like Chamberlain more than Veras without any other plausible explanation. To me it seems a bit questionable, but the Tigers need to cross their fingers that this whole risk taking pays off because the city, the fans, and the players are itching for success and the one thing that might hold them back are bullpen woes.