Results tagged ‘ Jose Veras ’

12/27 Roundup

The starting-pitching market currently is focused on Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, whose recent posting opened up what is sure to be a hotly contested bidding war. The 25-year-old is expected to command at least $17 million per season, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

But another free agent who didn’t throw a single Major League pitch last season also seems to be drawing plenty of interest. Lefty Mark Mulder, a 36-year-old former All-Star who last played in 2008, has been making a comeback attempt with a revamped delivery after injuries derailed his career. The experiment has been promising enough that Mulder is mulling over offers from seven teams, with The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reporting that the Angels are “emerging as [a] front-runner.”

In other news from around the league on Friday:

  • Tanaka could be the latest addition in an aggressive offseason for the Mariners, although GM Jack Zduriencik declined to comment on any interest he might have. Meanwhile, the hype machine is working at full force with Tanaka, writes our Terence Moore.
  • Shin-Soo Choo, who signed a seven-year, $130 million contract with the Rangers, was introduced at the Ballpark in Arlington, with both sides describing it as a “perfect fit.” That financial commitment could make it difficult for Texas to sign Tanaka and almost certainly means that free-agent outfielder Nelson Cruz won’t be returning.
  • The Angels officially added a powerful left-handed bat, finalizing their one-year contract with veteran slugger Raul Ibanez.
  • The Cubs announced their one-year contract with free-agent righty Jose Veras, who is set to take over as the club’s new closer.
  • The Mets continue to shop first baseman Ike Davis, reports the New York Post’s Mike Puma, who tweeted that the club is talking to the Brewers, Orioles and Pirates.
  • Former Cubs and Rays outfielder Sam Fuld, is deciding between Minor League deals from five teams, according to Zach Links of MLBTradeRumors.com. Each offer includes an invitation to big-league Spring Training.

– Andrew Simon

12/17 Roundup

The pool of potential closers available on the free-agent market shrank on Tuesday, when the Hot Stove was focused on relief pitching.

The Orioles were on the hunt for a closer after trading Jim Johnson to the A’s earlier this offseason, and they now appear set to use some of the savings from that deal on Oakland’s former closer. Grant Balfour, who saved 38 games for the A’s in 2013, reportedly is in agreement on a two-year contract with Baltimore.

The Cubs also might have snatched up a new ninth-inning man after reaching a reported one-year pact with Jose Veras. That would leave Fernando Rodney, Joaquin Benoit, Rafael Betancourt and Chris Perez among a dwindling group of free agents with recent success as closers. The Padres appear to be targeting Benoit for an eighth-inning role in front of Huston Street.

In other news from around the league:

  • Highly touted Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka has informed his Nippon Professional Baseball club, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, that he wants to be made available to Major League teams. But even with NPB and MLB having a new posting agreement in place, the Eagles do not have to post Tanaka, and it appears they might be reluctant to do so.
  • One club that figures to pursue Tanaka if he becomes available is Arizona, which is looking to add more starting pitching this offseason.
  • The Yankees are close to signing a pair of veteran players, reportedly reaching an agreement on a one-year deal with second baseman Brian Roberts and a two-year contract with left-handed reliever Matt Thornton. Meanwhile, New York still would like to add free agent Mark Reynolds but is facing competition from the Angels and Twins, among others, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com and MLB Network. Jeff Baker is another veteran bat drawing interest from the club, per the New York Post’s Joel Sherman.
  • The Braves’ search for additional starting pitching likely concluded with Monday’s signing of Gavin Floyd to a one-year contract, despite the fact that the righty won’t be ready until May as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. Atlanta had explored trades for the likes of the Rays’ David Price and the Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija but found the asking prices too steep.
  • Our Tom Singer checks in on free-agent righty A.J. Burnett, who has yet to make a decision about whether to retire, return to the Pirates or perhaps pitch for another team. It’s a delay that is making things difficult for Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington.
  • After losing out on Juan Uribe, the Marlins continue to search for a third baseman. The club is looking at both free agents and trade possibilities.
  • The Mets’ top priority is to trade one of its first basemen, Ike Davis or Lucas Duda. The Brewers and Pirates are the two remaining clubs that seem like obvious trade partners for such a deal. Pittsburgh is interested in both Davis and the Rangers’ Mitch Moreland, according to Heyman.
  • The Cardinals’ recent signing of free-agent second baseman Mark Ellis likely will turn out to be their last significant move of the offseason, as GM John Mozeliak acknowledged on Tuesday.
  • On the other hand, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said his club still is looking hard at free agents, with the bullpen one area to address. Houston already has signed relievers Chad Qualls and Matt Albers.

– Andrew Simon

Cubs sign reliever Veras

The Cubs have agreed to a contract with free-agent reliever Jose Veras, with the righty set to take a physical on Wednesday morning to make it official. The club has not confirmed the move.

Veras will serve as Chicago’s closer, reports ESPN Deportes’ Enrique Rojas, who adds that the one-year deal is worth $4 million plus incentives, with a $5.5 million option for 2015.

The 33-year-old notched 19 saves and a 2.93 ERA in 42 appearances for the Astros last season before being traded to Detroit, where he served mostly in a setup role. In 62 2/3 innings overall, Veras had a 3.02 ERA, with 60 strikeouts and 22 walks.

– Andrew Simon

Veras would like to return to Houston; Astros in on Morse

Free agent pitcher Jose Veras, who served as the Astros closer the first half of the season, said Tuesday his agent has been talking to Houston about a possible return to the Astros.

Veras, who lives in Miami, told MLB.com he would be thrilled to come back to the Astros, who signed him to a one-year deal a year ago and then traded him to Detroit in July. Veras saved 19 games for the Astros last year and posted a 2.93 ERA with 44 strikeouts and 14 walks in 43 innings.

“It feels like family there,” Veras said. “It’s a young team and they’re hungry to win. I feel part of the team. I doesn’t matter to me if we won or lose. When you play as a team and everybody cares, that’s the best part for me. I do my job to make the tam excited we won the game.

“It was my first time to get an opportunity to be a closer, and I appreciated that part. It felt like the best place I’ve been. I was talking to my agent and I feel excited the Astros are interested to bring me back to the team.”

The Astros have added Chad Qualls to their bullpen but would like to sign one more reliever. They’ve talked to the representatives of Jesse Crain, a Houston resident, and Chad Gaudin.

Meanwhile, a source told MLB.com the Astros have been talking with the agent for free agent outfielder/first baseman Mike Morse, who has a history with manager Bo Porter in Washington. Morse, 31, hit .215 with 23 homers and 27 RBIs in only 88 games split between the Mariners and Orioles last year and is two years removed from slugging 31 homers for Washington in 2011.

– Brian McTaggart

A look at the Rockies’ plans with Hawkins and Brothers, plus notes on batting and pitching pursuits

The Rockies’ pursuit of veteran right-hander LaTroy Hawkins, which resulted in a one-year, $2.5 million guarantee that will become official once Hawkins passes a physical, can be seen in an odd way as a compliment to young lefty Rex Brothers, who served capably as closer when veteran Rafael Betancourt was injured.

Brothers, who turns 26 on Dec. 18, went 19-of-21 on save chances and finished with a 1.74 ERA last season. At times he struggled putting away hitters early in innings but he still struck out 76 (against 36 walks) in 67 1/3 innings. It certainly is a signal that he could become even more effective.

But before Betancourt went through a right groin strain, an appendectomy and finally a season-ending elbow injury, many of Betancourt’s save opportunities came partly because of Brothers’ effectiveness as a setup man. Brothers’ club-record 30-inning scoreless streak, which covered 32 games, ran from April 10 to June 27. Only the final nine games of the streak came while he was in the closer role.

As the season progressed, several games ended with Brothers not even taking the mound, because the middle relief and setup men pitched away the lead. It’s the old sabermetric argument: Why have the best option sitting in the bullpen while lesser pitchers blow it?

Hawkins ended up an effective closer for the Mets late last season. He earned all 12 of his saves and blew just one from Aug. 6 to season’s end. He struck out 18 against one walk and held opponents to a .222 batting average in those 23 appearances. At 41, he still throws hard enough and deceptively enough to be trusted with the final inning. The Rockies believe if he holds the closer job, it frees them to use Brothers when the game is tight before the ninth. And if plans change and Brothers at some point ends up the closer — which has been his plan his entire career — Hawkins gives them an attractive option in a setup role.

The Rockies still want to shore up the setup roles through free agency. Signing Hawkins as closer likely takes them out of the chase for Brian Wilson and Grant Balfour, who could be invited to pitch the ninth inning by another club. But a hard throwers such as Jesse Crain, Joe Smith or Jose Veras could further fill the Rockies’ needs.

The attempt to load up the back of the bullpen makes for intriguing competition and decisions when it comes to holdovers from last season. The club likes the 96 mph-plus fastball that righty Chad Bettis brought last season when used in relief, and will keep him there rather than revisit him in the rotation. They tested righty Adam Ottavino in late innings and there were some encouraging numbers, such as a 2.00 ERA at Coors Field. Righty Mitchell Boggs finished up with the Rockies after struggling mightily with the Cardinals when forced into the closer role, and the club is having internal discussions about returning him to a starter role. Boggs started 15 of his first 24 big-league appearances when breaking in with the Cards in 2008 and 2009.

The Rockies also continue to be in the market for starting pitching, although it’s unclear exactly where they’ll look. They’re often leery of accomplishment elsewhere because of the Mike Hampton-Denny Neagle experiment a few years back, but Tim Hudson profiled well. However, Hudson decided to take his passion and intensity to the NL West with the Giants.

Left-handed hitting outfielder-first baseman James Loney continues to be a prime candidate for the corner bat the Rockies seek. Corey Hart, coming off a knee injury, told a satellite radio audience on Tuesday that the Rockies, Red Sox and his former team, the Brewers, have checked in with him. Not much will be known until next month, when he is cleared for full activity. What isn’t clear is how strongly the Rockies are pursuing first baseman Mike Napoli, whose ability to make a pitcher work would fit nicely at first base. However, with his 2013 team, the World Series champion Red Sox, and others in the mix, the Rockies may drop out of the bidding the way they did with catcher Carlos Ruiz, who re-signed with the Phillies on Monday.

– Thomas Harding

How would Carlos Beltran look in purple pinstripes?

Open-market musings:

How would Carlos Beltran look in right field for the Rockies?

The club is weighing various options in free agency, with a big bat being one of the priorities. While trads are an option, the Rockies are more likely to go the free agency route. That’s what they did two years ago when they signed Michael Cuddyer, who paid off for them by winning the National League batting title this year.

Don’t be surprised if the Rockies don’t at least seriously consider making a run at Beltran, who made his first World Series appearance this year while with the Cardinals. He’ll be 37 to start next season, but was quite productive in 2013 — .296, .339 OPB, .491 SLG. Those aren’t far from the numbers over his career. With a team that includes Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki and Cuddyer, it could be a fit. He could come in at two years and $30 million, as the MLB Trade Rumors Web site predicts. The Rockies had interest in him in the past.

Of course, there are many was for the Rockies to spend their money on a slugger, who can fit in at either first base or right field with Cuddyer playing the other position. Nelson Cruz, who is expected to turn down the Rangers’ qualifying offer and test the market, Justin Morneau, Marlon Byrd, James Loney (.338, nine home runs, 54 RBIs, .957 OPS in 55 games at Coors Field) and Corey Hart also could fit the bill. Brian McCann can catch and play first base, but at the top of his earning value in terms of money and years it’s doubtful the Rockies will be a serious competitor for his services.

The Rockies will attempt to bring in a pitching leader, and are expected to inquire about Tim Hudson — despite the fact the Braves, Royals, Indians and and Red Sox have already identified themselves as contenders — and Josh Johnson. The price figures to be high for Ricky Nolasco or Ervin Santana, as SI.com and others report, but the Rockies need a stalwart and can’t be counted out in those sweepstakes. Matt Garza, who could score big in free agency, and Jason Vargas also could be possibilities.

Also, add the name of righty reliever Jesse Crain to the list of publicly identified free-agency targets. The Denver Post has identified Brian Wilson, Grant Balfour, Joe Smith and Jose Veras as bullpen possibilities. ESPNNewYork.com reported the club is looking at LaTroy Hawkins.

The Rockies are also pursuing free-agent catcher Carlos Ruiz, although the Phillies are making a push to keep him. If the Rockies sign him, the intriguing situation is what becomes of catcher Wilin Rosario, a slugger who doesn’t have Ruiz’s experience or ability defensively.

– Thomas Harding

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