Wait, didn’t the Astros and Jose Veras have a “mutual interest”?


Astros LogoObviously, the Astros didn’t value Jose Veras as much as we may have thought.

Veras, who served as Houston’s closer for the first half of last season, signed a one-year deal with the Cubs Tuesday. One year. $4 million. The deal includes a 2015 option for $5.5 million or a $150,000 buyout. A pretty sweet deal, once again setting up Veras for the possibility of a trade next July.

With rumors abounding of a “mutual interest” between the Astros and Veras, it’s almost shocking that Jeff Luhnow didn’t reel in Veras considering the ultimate contract.

Given his contributions last season and his expressed desire to play in Houston, putting together a two-year deal for the probable closer would seem to have been a no brainer? No? And considering his one-year deal with an option and the recent Chad Qualls signing at 2/$6 million, a two-year deal for Veras wouldn’t be a stretch. Would it?

How, you ask, did the Astros let Veras get away? Or, maybe a better question is: Did they let him get away? Should the Chad Qualls and Matt Albers signings have been an indication the Astros had moved on? Or were they never really as interested in a reunion as Veras might have been?

Enter former Houston Cougar Jesse Crain, who’s younger and whose numbers and consistency are actually better than Veras. But, like Veras at the beginning of 2013, Crain has never been a closer.

Won’t get into a number-by-number comparison here, you can do that. Crain may be better. And, with 39 spots on the 40-man roster presently filled, the roster limits may have played a role as well. Houston is still apparently searching for a first baseman, so the roster may be due some shuffling soon. Trade? DFA? Outright?

Either way, add Veras to the growing list of players the Astros might have wanted, but couldn’t get a deal done.

Stay tuned. Luhnow is likely far from finished. But the heavy lifting and tough decisions may be waiting around the next corner.

  • Do you think the Astros were ever really interested in Veras?
  • Who would you rather have closing games in 2014: Veras, Crain, Albers, Qualls, Rollie Fingers?
  • Will Luhnow make a big splash (trade, free agent signing) between now and spring training?
  • Is it possible that Houston could find another Billy Wagner or Brad Lidge among their leading prospects? If so, which one is most likely to fill those shoes?
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25 comments on “Wait, didn’t the Astros and Jose Veras have a “mutual interest”?

  1. I think we might be looking at Josh Fields as the closer. After a couple of ground-ball pitchers, a flamethrower in the 9th inning might be the best way to go. Or perhaps Luhnow/Porter are planning on a closer-by-committee. And I’d be fine with that.

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  2. Maybe Luhnow was just “luke warm” on him….it’s not like he was the best guy
    out there, besides he became a closer by default last year. Who knows who will be added or subtracted by the start of Spring training………NO ONE should be considered untouchable.

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  3. Signing Veras would have been like getting back together with your old girlfriend. It’s easy. Everyone knows what to expect. And, y’all had a good time most of the time.

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  4. I still think we need one more bullpen guy. I am not comfortable handing the closers role over to Fields yet and Qualls/Albers are not closer types. They are nice set-up guys, but not your typical closer. I hope they sign Crain. If so, I feel much more comfortable with the bullpen as we all know this was our weakest link, by far.

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  5. Answers
    – Yes I think the Astros were interested in Veras – maybe he priced him up beyond what they wanted to pay – thus signing Albers or maybe they are still interested in a younger Crain.
    – I would rather have Fingers (in his prime) then Veras, then Crane, then Qualls.
    – I think there could be another trade coming – not sure how big a splash or a couple smaller FAs
    – I’m wondering if after more folks hit the big time from the minors – somebody like Cosart might end up being the closer in a couple years.

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  6. The Astros overpaid in 2013 for Veras, but the move worked fantastically as he was very good in Houston and then returned to form in Detroit. Bringing him back would only have made sense if 1) they were unable to get guys like Qualls and Albers and 2) they didn’t want to see more of Fields as closer.

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  7. The Cubs signed Veras for $4million, with a $5.5million option for a second year.
    THAT should tell you why Luhnow didn’t sign him. He ain’t worth $4 million.

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  8. Looking back – from Mid-August onward – Fields pitched solidly. He was terrible in his first 25 appearances – had a 7.59 ERA, but did very well to finish the season.
    His last 16 appearances – 1.67 ERA and a little more than 9 K / 9 IP.
    Perhaps, Luhnow always intended to just add a couple vets to the pen and we have them now.

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  9. It may have come down to that $60 then $50 then $40 then $30 Million Budget – so right now when Astros sign Castro and the rest of the team at minimum (which surely they will) – the team is over budget. Does not take long to spend $30 Million on payroll these days. They are already about $19 Million signed without the balance of the team being counted.

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  10. It’s $23.6 million plus whatever Altuve is owed. Plus Castro and a lot of league minimums. All told, we’re probably right around $45 million.

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      • Hey bopert, don’t tell me what to intermingle I said yesterday that as presently advertised, this team might lose 100 again. I also believe Luhnow will continue to remake this team over the next couple of months. We’ll see what happens. But since you brought up the mention of impact players, the great thing about our game is that at any point a guy can show up and become one.

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  11. I’m amazed how “cheap” Veras’ two-year deal came to the Cubs. Balfour at $14mil for the same term is more in line with market value. Balfour is more clutch, but is a couple/few years older than Veras, too.

    This highlights the payroll problem the ALastros will continue to have as they endeavor towards on-going and inevitable mediocrity, folks.

    This will free up money to go after Choo? Acquire a legit first baseman? Yeah, right.

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  12. In addition to being too poor to play in the “Choo sweepstakes”, and the “legit 1B sweepstakes” I DO predict they’ll nab Jesse Crain.

    But they’ll struggle all year in the closer’s role, regardless.

    As far as the rest of the moves this winter: 1) a couple paltry bullpen arms and 2) a defensive IF acquisition. Maybe they’ll bring on a has-been re-tread to lend veteran experience (and all that crap). But he’ll come Rick Ankiel cheap.

    And that will be it. No impact players the rest of the way out.

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    • I guess picking up a legitimate lead-off OF in Dexter Fowler and a starting pitcher in Scott Feldman do not make it into your review of the off-season – strange since you are so hung up on $$$ and these were the two most expensive acquisitions of the winter.

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      • That, Dan, and it’s not even Christmas Day. There’s a lot of calendar between now and spring training. And even more until the Yankees (spit!) come to town.

        Luhnow has done great work thus far, and for anyone to say he’s hung it up for the winter, well the evidence is obviously to the contrary.

        And, even standing pat right now, this team will win more than 62 games. Probably not 70, but anything over 65 wins will be gravy this year.

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    • Did you see the money Choo turned down from the Yankees? That was ridiculous money for a player who would NOT produce here in the way he has in the past. I know the Astros need to spend more, but do you *really* think they should be outspending the Yankees? Seriously?! This is not fantasy league baseball.

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    • You tell me, is Jesus Guzman a cast-off, or a legit 1B? He is Rick Ankiel, cheap, however. Next order of business, a scrub defensive backstop and freeing up a slot or two on the 40-man roster. The bullpen is not finished, yet.

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      • He’s a decent backup. Unlike Ankiel he’s never gotten popped for PEDs. I bet we flip Wallace and Guzman backs up Singleton. The point is, Luhnow managed to find someone to take Jackson.

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  13. I don’t know the criteria behind not signing Veras. But it didn’t get done and the team has to find someone within the organization to do that job. Remember that Detroit did not use him as a closer.
    What I wanted to discuss is the pitching staff as a whole. Pitching is a skill and it randomly involves luck, but not unceasingly. Pitching involves ability to make pitches and knowledge of when where and what to throw.
    Lucas Harrell was not unlucky last year or lucky in 2012. Lucas Harrell was GOOD in 2012 and driven in 2012 and he was neither in 2013. Now it is up to him and his teammates to change and be changed by their coaches and in their heads.
    With so many rookie pitchers last year and not a good pitching instructor it was impossible to perform well.
    Just about every guy on the staff this year has to pitch better, get better and pitch better. The young pitchers got thrown into the water and now it’s time to swim.
    The Cardinal pitchers, under Dave Duncan and Co. were not lucky or the best all those years. They were taught to pitch and then went out and did it to the best of their ability and they won. The Astros need to do that.
    I said for two years that the Astros did not have good pitching instructors , Now they’ve made a change and it is time for all of the pitchers to wake up and pitch.

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  14. Sorry, did not answer your questions. I would probably take Fingers at 67 years of age but he would have to take a pay cut. Same answer on Veras — yes they were interested but he would have to take a pay cut. Luhnow is spending Crane’s money (or lack of it if one wants to go negative). He may surprise us by trading some prospects – but doubt what I would call a “big splash” will occur. Yes they may find a Lidge or Wagner, but I have no idea who it will be. He must have a least 1 good + pitch and preferable 2 + pitches. So in reading the scouting reports, several fit that category but presently are starters. I need to add that Houston is a good sports town. 1.65 Million paid last year. So most were wearing the visitor shirts – they still came and paid. So if we ever get a contending team (.500 or better) the gate and concession money will roll in again. But the TV deal will kill the ability to compete on salaries.

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  15. I know some will just shrug, but let’s not forget we’ve added Peter Moylan on a minor league deal to the pen mix. He’s been solid before, he can do it again. In a setup — 6th-inning role.

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