Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reported that the Astros will receive two players in exchange for Veras, including outfielder Danry Vasquez:
#Astros acquired outfielder Danry Vasquez and a player to be named later from the Tigers in exchange for right-handed pitcher Jose Veras— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) July 29, 2013
It was always a question of when, not if, the Tigers would make a move for a relief pitcher. They currently rank 23rd in bullpen ERA (4.01) and 21st in opponents' OPS (.699).
A lot of names, mostly closers, have been rumored for the Tigers, such as Francisco Rodriguez (before he was dealt to Baltimore), Jonathan Papelbon and Joe Nathan, but few made sense given the price in dollars and prospects probably didn't fit what they wanted.
Veras gives manager Jim Leyland another option to choose from and bolsters a group that desperately needed some help for the stretch run.
Here are our grades for both the Tigers and Astros after the trade.
Detroit's bullpen has been a mess since spring training. The team was hoping that hard-throwing rookie Bruce Rondon would step into the closer's role, because his fastball can regularly sit in the 100-102 mph range. Unfortunately, Rondon's control issues and lack of an effective second pitch made it easier for hitters to time the heater, forcing the team to send him back to Triple-A before recalling him once again at the end of June.
The Jose Valverde 2.0 experiment went about as well as expected. He posted a 5.59 ERA and allowed six home runs in 19.1 innings before the Tigers designated him for assignment on June 21.
Al Alburquerque, Phil Coke and Octavio Dotel have also disappointed because of poor performances or injuries, leaving a huge void late in the game for the Tigers to fill.
Veras is not a stud in the back of the bullpen, but he does have a good live arm with an above-average fastball and curveball he has used to generate a higher percentage of swings outside the strike zone (27.5 percent this season, compared to 23.7 percent for his career).
In addition to stuff, Veras is having a solid season, though it is a little deceiving. His 2.93 ERA would be a career low, but he also has a .240 BABIP. It is possible he can hold that throughout the rest of this season, especially since his walk rate of 2.93 per nine innings is much lower than his career mark of 4.68.
Really, even if Veras is a league-average reliever for the rest of the season, this is a huge win for the Tigers. They need arms capable of getting outs late in games. Their starting rotation is so deep that they won't have to use the bullpen a lot.
If Veras gives the Tigers 20-25 innings the rest of the regular season with a 3.50 ERA and a handful of saves, that has to be considered a big win given the state of their bullpen right now.
The reason the grade for the Tigers isn't as high as it may have seemed given what I wrote is because of what the Astros got in return for a 32-year-old relief pitcher who, up until this year, was a journeyman with control issues.
Danry Vasquez is very young (19) and still raw, but he is also playing fairly well in the Midwest League and boasts enough tools and physical projection to become a starting outfielder in the future.
There is a lot of risk and development with any 19-year-old, so I am not saying Vasquez will make it to the big leagues. But to get him for Veras is another smart move for an Astros front office that has done well to rebuild a depleted system over the last two years.
Vasquez is currently listed at 6'3", 177 pounds. He is hitting .281/.333/.390 with 16 doubles, five triples, five home runs and a solid 56-31 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 374 at-bats. He has a very good approach at the plate, with better pitch recognition and discipline than a lot of players his age.
He has above-average power potential thanks to plus bat speed, some loft at the end of his swing and a feel for driving the ball to the opposite-field gaps. He doesn't run well or bring a lot of arm strength, making him a left-field-only prospect.
Since Vasquez is limited defensively, his offensive skills have to develop for him to have a future. At 19, there is a lot to dream on. But when you can trade a journeyman reliever for a player with at least average-regular potential, that is a good deal.
On top of that, the Astros will also get a player to be named later. I can't imagine it will be anything of significance, but it is still a two-for-one deal in their favor.
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