The Astros intend to use Jose Veras as their closer

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There wasn’t anything interesting on the surface about the Astros signing Jose Veras to a one-year, $2 million deal earlier this week, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears that the club intends to use him as their closer next season. In fact, they have included incentives in his contract with that very role in mind.

Veras will have the opportunity to earn an additional $500,000 next season based on games finished. His contract includes a $3.25 million option for 2014 or a $150,000 buyout, but the price of the option can increase to between $4 million and $5.5 million based on games finished. If exercised, he could also make an additional $500,000 with incentives.

Veras has a 4.01 ERA over eight seasons in the majors and only has five career saves to his name, but he throws in the mid-90s with his heater and can make hitters look silly with his curveball at times. Of course, the 32-year-old has averaged 4.9 BB/9 during his career, so he doesn’t always know where it is going. The rebuilding Astros might not offer a ton of save chances next season, but they can afford to experiment in the ninth inning. If Veras emerges as a solid closer, they could have a nice trade chip on their hands.

Braves expected to lose as many as 12 prospects as a result of international signing violations

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UPDATE: Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Braves are expected to lose as many as 12 players as a result of the sanctions, plus they’ll suffer significant restrictions on international signings for the next four years, plus they will lose a draft pick in next year’s draft.

2:46PM: Major League Baseball is expected to announce its sanctions against the Atlanta Braves for their international signing violations as early as this afternoon. Earlier today a handful of reports came out suggesting what at least part of those penalties will entail. Think multiple prospects signed in the last year or two.

Ben Badler of Baseball America reports that shortstop Kevin Maitan, catcher Abrahan Gutierrez, second baseman Yunior Severino and righthander Juan Contreras — the Braves top four international signees of 2016 — will all become restricted free agents, but it is not clear what the restrictions will be. Maitan, it should be noted, was the number one ranked international prospect in all of baseball last year. Severino was the eighth-ranked, Gutierrez the 15th-ranked and Conrearas the 41st-ranked.

In addition to losing prospects, there will likewise be financial penalties and, most likely, future signing restrictions. The severity of these penalties suggest that, whatever the specifics of the violations MLB has found to have been committed by the Braves, they are unprecedented in scope and severity.