In a surprise move on Friday the Tigers announced they would decline Jose Veras' 2014 option. The option would have paid the right-handed reliever $3.25 million. Instead the Tigers will buy him out for $150,000.
The move comes as a surprise both because the Tigers gave up quality prospects to acquire him, trading outfielder Danry Vasquez and pitcher David Paulino for what appeared to be a season and a half of a veteran bullpen arm.
Veras had a 3.20 ERA in about 20 innings with the Tigers. His postseason was a bit less successful: He gave up two runs in 5 2/3 innings, though he did allow three inherited runs to score on a grand slam in Game 6 of the ALCS.
Coupled with allowing left-hander Darin Downs to be claimed on waivers by the Astros, the Tigers' bullpen appears to be in the midst of a total rebuild, which would make some sense given that it was the weakest part of the roster. The Tigers also have to make a decision as to whether to bring back Joaquin Benoit, who is now a free agent. There's also the question of whether to non-tender Phil Coke, who was disappointing during the regular season with a 5.40 ERA. He made four postseason appearances, facing just one batter each time. Trading a current rotation member, which may not be as likely as some suggest, to make room for Drew Smyly would only leave another gap in the pen.
Of course the possibility remains, as Tony Paul mentioned on Twitter, that the Tigers could decline the option and then attempt to sign Veras to a less expensive contract.