As originally reported by Ken Rosenthal, the Tigers acquired Jose Veras from the Astros this morning for outfield prospect Danry Vasquez. Veras was closing games for Houston but he will not take that role on the Tigers. Joaquin Benoit will remain the closer with Veras and lefty Drew Smyly setting up. Detroit will be the seventh major league stop for the well traveled Veras.
The 32-year-old Dominican had a 2.98 ERA and 44/14 K/BB ratio in 43 innings with the Astros this year. His RE24, a measure of overall effectiveness including situational pitching, was 6.80. This indicates that he saved the Astros an estimated seven runs over an average pitcher. This would rank him third on the Tigers staff behind Smyly (the MLB leader at 20.0) and Benoit (14.9). The rest of the Tigers relievers are below zero meaning they have cost the team runs.
Veras has a history of control problems with 4.7 walks per nine innings in his career, but is down to 2.9 this year. He has been especially sharp in recent weeks having held opponents to zero earned runs in 18 of his last 19 outings. He also has walked just four batters during that period.
This deal adds depth to the Tigers bullpen for now, but it does not come without risks. Vasquez is a consensus top ten Tigers prospect with a high upside. The 19-year-old Venezuelan outfielder is a raw talent with a .281/.331/.390 line at low A West Michigan. I got a chance to see him last year when he played for the short season Connecticut Tigers. I do not have scouting skills, but his athleticism stands out right away and the experts agree that his hitting tool is excellent.
If he develops power and a little plate discipline, Vasquez has the potential to be a middle of the order hitter. He is very far away from the majors though and chances are that he'll flame out before he gets there. He has more value to a team like the Astros that needs to stock pile such talents and hope that a couple of them pan out. The Tigers, on the other hand, want to win now and Veras will help them do that.