Released by the Braves during spring training, veteran reliever Jose Veras has signed a minor-league deal with the Astros.
Veras spent the second half of last season with the Astros and pitched well with a 3.03 ERA and 37/16 K/BB ratio in 33 innings, but he never gained much traction as a 34-year-old free agent.
Veras has a 3.91 career ERA, including a 3.70 ERA with 322 strikeouts in 295 innings since 2010, so it’s somewhat surprising that it took this long for a team to grab him as a potential middle relief option.
For now he’ll head to extended spring training.
Last month Jose Veras had to settle for a minor-league deal from the Braves despite being a consistently solid reliever for the past five seasons and now Atlanta has released the 34-year-old right-hander.
Veras was awful in April of last year, but from May 1 on he threw 40 innings with a 2.90 ERA and 45/17 K/BB ratio. And he posted a sub-4.00 ERA with good strikeout rates every season from 2010-2013.
Assuming he’s healthy there are plenty of teams that could use Veras in a middle relief or even setup role.
The Braves announced this afternoon that reliever Shae Simmons underwent Tommy John reconstructive surgery on his right elbow. The 24-year-old will miss the entire 2015 season.
A hard-throwing right-hander, Simmons posted a 2.91 ERA and 23/11 K/BB ratio over 21 2/3 innings as a rookie in 2014 prior to missing the final two months of the season due to lingering shoulder soreness. The Braves were expecting him to be a part of their bullpen this year, but Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that he felt discomfort in his elbow during a bullpen session last week before getting the bad news.
The Braves have brought in a host of veteran bullpen arms over the past few days, including Jose Veras, Matt Capps, and Todd Coffey, which makes a lot more sense now that we know about Simmons. Jason Grilli and Veras figure to be the top candidates to set up for Craig Kimbrel.
The 2014 Braves didn’t get a single relief appearance from a pitcher in his 30s. With John Hart at the helm, the 2015 Braves are going in a much different direction with the bullpen.
34-year-old Jose Veras is Hart’s latest pickup for the relief corps, joining Jason Grilli, Jim Johnson, Josh Outman and Matt Capps. Like Capps, Veras is getting a minor league deal, though he seems like a pretty good bet to claim a spot.
After saving 21 games with a 3.02 ERA in 2013, Veras received a one-year, $4 million deal to close for the Cubs last year. He was an immediate bust, amassing an 8.10 ERA in 13 1/3 innings, but after rejoining the Astros, whom he pitched for during the first two-thirds of 2013, he had a 3.03 ERA and a 37/16 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. Over the last three seasons, he had a 3.64 ERA and a 189/89 K/BB ratio in 175 2/3 innings.
As things stand now, Craig Kimbrel, Grilli, Johnson and James Russell would seem to be guaranteed spots in the Atlanta bullpen. Outman and Veras will be clear favorites for two of the three remaining spots. Ideally, Shae Simmons would be there, too, but the youngster needs to prove he’s healthy after missing most of the second half of last season with shoulder troubles. Lefties Luis Avilan and Ian Thomas will also provide competition.