The last time the Tigers picked up a former Houston Astros closer, things started off pretty well. Jose Valverde saved 75 games in his first two seasons in Detroit before an epic meltdown in late 2012 and 2013 left his career in limbo. Current Astros closer Jose Veras has put up some similar peripherals during his eight year career, but hasn't had the same ninth inning success as Papa Grande.
Stats via FanGraphs on June 26
Veras is making $1.8 million this season with a team option for $3.25 million next season or $150,000 buyout.
Veras came up through the Yankees farm system in the mid-2000s, but bounced around with several clubs before landing with the Astros this offseason. The Astros named him their closer at the start of the season, and he has done a fairly solid job. He is only 15 for 18 in save chances, but is six for six with a 2.00 ERA since the start of June.
Why he fits the Tigers
A big right-hander with a good strikeout rate and command issues? He would fit in perfectly!
All joking aside, Veras would be a decent option for the Tigers in a seventh or eighth inning role. He has iffy command, but has only allowed 7.2 hits per nine innings in his career. He has never allowed more than eight home runs in a season, a decent feat for someone who spent two years pitching in Yankee Stadium. While the Tigers have some nice arms in their pen already, a veteran like Veras could be a nice replacement for Octavio Dotel.
Why he doesn't fit the Tigers
As mentioned before, his lack of command can get the better of him at times. He has never walked fewer than four batters per nine innings in a season, and has never had the type of shutdown stretch that you expect from a top-notch relief pitcher. Even in 2013, his WHIP and walk rate are at career lows, yet he has still blown three saves -- including one against the Tigers -- and has a 3.82 ERA.
How likely is a trade?
Houston GM Jeff Luhnow has been very active at the trade deadline since he took over the club, dealing just about every fungible asset the Astros have had for prospects. Veras is owed just south of $1 million over the rest of 2013, and has a $3.25 million team option for the 2014 season. I would bet even money that Veras is not in an Astros uniform come August 1st, but whether that uniform is a Tigers one is tough to predict.
What the Tigers should give up
If they give up anything more than a low-level prospect or two, this is a massive overpay. The Astros have been trying to restock their farm system for almost two years now, and their main goal this July will likely be to offload guys like Veras and possibly starter Bud Norris for more prospects.
Crawfish Boxes thoughts
I'm pretty sure that if Jose Veras is NOT traded, Astros fans will be shocked. When he was signed to be the team's closer, everyone kind of assumed GM Jeff Luhnow was trying to follow the Billy Beane play book of flipping closers for prospects and finding other relievers to fill that spot. He did it with two closers already in Mark Melancon and Wilton Lopez, so chances are good Veras is next.
As for return, I'm not sure it will take much to get him. The sticking point will be Luhnow's quotes this week about not trading for depth any more. Last season, the Astros added a ton of players in multiple trades. This year, they may be looking for impact guys, meaning players close to the majors or high upside prospects.
One name our writers have kicked around from the Tigers in a hypothetical Veras deal is Avisail Garcia. Not sure how realistic that might be from your end, but our writers would be happy with that deal.