Each day until free agency begins, we at Phillies Nation will take a look at a player who will become a free agent five days from the conclusion of the World Series. We will explore potential performance, fit, cost, and feasibility. We continue today with right-handed reliever Jose Veras. And a reminder: you can check out all the “Pass or Play” posts by clicking on the category hyperlink.
Veras, 33, had a career year last season between Houston and Detroit, posting career lows in ERA, WHIP, and BB/9 IP. Veras started the year as Houston’s closer before Detroit added Veras at the trade deadline. Veras has held hitters to a career .216 BAA but has struggled with walks – his OBP is over 100 points higher than his BAA. While his batting average against is very similar when comparing his splits, he is more likely to walk a lefty (.335 OBPa v. .306 against righties) and give up extra base hits to lefties (.373 v. .336 against righties). That said, Veras was practically unhittable against righties last season (.164/.252/.264 against in 123 PA) and will be a hot commodity because of that.
The Phillies’ bullpen was ranked 14th out of 15th in ERA, FIP, and xFIP in the National League last season and there are not a ton of promising bullpen arms that the Phillies haven’t yet seen in the Majors. One such player, Kenny Giles, is struggling in the Arizona Fall League. Veras is definitely a fit.
Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors reported Veras’ availability today after the Tigers bought out his contract for $150 K, declining a $3.25 million team option. Veras pitched really well in 2013 but, as Adams pointed out, was the pitcher that came in with the bases loaded and allowed Shane Victorino to hit his ALCS grand slam. Steamer projections have Veras having a season comparable to his 2011 with the Pirates (3.76 ERA projected) for about 0.3 fWAR. That tally would make him worth about $1.5 to $2 million per year on the open market.
After saving 21 games in 2013, I would bet Ruben Amaro sees Veras and thinks “veteran track record”. With the cost not being prohibitive and the roster need there, I think Amaro could make a play for Veras.
Verdict: Play, Play, Play
Another potential bargain, Veras is a veteran, league-average reliever which is sadly, and surprisingly, an upgrade for the Phillies. I would put Veras in a class with Chris Young and Dioner Navarro in terms of my favorite value plays this free agency if he can be signed for between $1.5 and $2.5 million a year for no more than two years.