The non-waiver trade deadline is just around the corner, and today we saw the pace of the wheeling and dealing pick up a little.
The headlining transaction of the day was the Tigers’ acquisition of Astros closer Jose Veras for minor league outfielder Danry Vasquez and a player to be named later. Veras, 32, is a veteran right hander that slots in well with the Tigers’ shaky bullpen. He’s a veteran arm that’s proven to be steady performer for a number of clubs in recent years.
This season, Veras has picked up 19 saves as closer for a cellar-dwelling Houston club with a sub-3.00 ERA. He’s averaging better than one strikeout per inning and has only walked 14 batters over 43 total innings pitched. Veras has proven through his career that he is capable of pitching in a variety of bullpen roles. With Detroit, he will likely be asked to help set up for current closer Joaquin Benoit, who has converted all 10 of his saves chances this season.
Meanwhile Vasquez, who is only 19 years old, was already ranked the sixth best prospect in the Tigers’ farm system by Baseball America. The Astros will likely assign him to one of their Single-A clubs to finish out the year.
Tampa Bay also bolstered their bullpen today by picking up All-Star reliever Jesse Crain and cash considerations from the Chicago White Sox for a player to be named later and cash considerations. This deal might have been the biggest of the day if not for the fact that Crain, also 32, is currently on the disabled list with a sore shoulder and has not pitched since June 29.
Crain was undoubtedly one of the best setup men in the league for the first half of the season, posting a 0.74 ERA with 46 strikeouts and just 11 walks in 38 appearances. His WHIP is just 1.15 so far.
Those premiere numbers have been wasted on the last place White Sox, who had lost nine of their last 12 games hearing into Monday night. The Rays are hopeful his live arm will help put them over the edge down the stretch in a tight AL East race. But again, that will all depend on how that shoulder recovers.
And rounding out the day are the Atlanta Braves, who also found some bullpen help by picking up left-handed reliever Scott Downs in a deal with the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for minor league right hander Cory Rasmus.
Atlanta had already lost left handed relievers Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty for the season, which left them with just one lefty named Luis Avilan (who?!) left in the bullpen. Downs may be 37, but he has big-game, playoff experience and is still really good at what the Braves will ask him to do – get left-handed hitters out.
Lefties are hitting just .159 against Downs this year, and in total his ERA is just 1.84 over 43 games pitched.
In Rasmum, the Angels get a high level pitching prospect who is almost Major League ready. The 25-year-old has spent most of his season at Triple-A Gwinnett, where he’s gone 3-1 with a 1.72 ERA and 14 saves. He has already flirted with making the show, but in three appearances with the Braves this season, he posted a 8.10 ERA.