When the Astros signed Jose Veras this offseason, I considered it a foregone conclusion that he would not be in Houston by the trading deadline. From the moment he got his first save an Astro, I was already thinking about what the return would be for the reliever in a trade.
Jose Veras (Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports)
You had to figure that Veras would be alright with this, and it was understood when he signed with the Astros, that it would only be a temporary home. Coming into the 2013 season, Veras had only registered seven career saves. However, he did have a track record as a proven reliever and as a veteran presence in the bullpen so the signing made sense.
But more importantly the price was right. A one year contract for $2 million plus an affordable team option for the following season is a pretty good contract. This was the one off season veteran acquisition for Jeff Luhnow that has truly worked out.
So far this season, Veras has 18 saves and a 3.05 ERA. Last season it was disconcerting for the Astros starting pitchers to see their leads blown in the ninth inning. Now, it’s not like the Astros bullpen has been good this year, because that’s the furthest thing from truth. Despite that, at least we know that the end of the game is secure. Even beyond that, Veras has taken on a leadership role in the bullpen that is at least equally as important as his performance on the field.
With that being said, should he be traded? And will he be traded?
Teams always need bullpen help. That much is absolute in baseball. If a team is positioned either to make the playoffs or is in playoff contention, they are looking to add a reliever.
Veras does not have the track record of a lot of other relievers that are potentially available on the trade market. Unless the Astros package Veras with other assets like Bud Norris, I can’t see the closer having a lot of value. Especially because he would not be going to his new team to be a closer.
It will likely prove to be difficult for Luhnow to strike gold again in the bargain basement of free agents on a closer two years in a row. And the Astros certainly need a closer. Plus, and perhaps most importantly, Veras has stated that he would like to stay in an Astros uniform.
Hearing that Veras is traded will not necessarily surprise me, but I think there is a reason why we haven’t really heard his name much on the trade market. He is more valuable to the Astros than what would likely be an inconsequential return. I also like the fact that Veras wishes to remain in Houston. You need at least one veteran in the bullpen as the Astros attempt to build a winning team.
But that doesn’t mean I would be against Houston trading Veras either.