jose veras astrosAfter the very public, physical-related drama between the Orioles and free agent Grant Balfour, we are reminded that the phrase “pending a physical” is not always a formality.

Fortunately, for the Cubs’ reliever signing, it was.

Today, the Chicago Cubs announced – officially – the signing of reliever Jose Veras, but did not disclose – officially – the terms beyond the fact that it’s a one-year deal with a team option for 2015. When the signing was first reported, it was believed to be a $4 million deal with a $5.5 million option – $3.85 million for 2014, and a $150,000 buyout on that 2015 option.

Veras will compete, perhaps with a leg up, for saves out of the gate. As I wrote about 10 days ago when the deal was reported:

Veras, 33, did a fair bit of closing with the Astros last year before being dealt at the Trade Deadline to the Tigers (who used him in a setup role). Although he didn’t establish himself as a reliable bullpen option until he was almost 30, Veras has put up a 3.55 ERA over the past four seasons, racking up 248.2 innings, 272 strikeouts, and 5 teams. Although he’s an overpowering guy, he’s also a wild guy: 2013 was the first season he’s ever had a BB/9 below 4.0 (it was 3.2). Lately, his FIP tends to hang out in the mid 3s, indicating he’s a good, not dominating reliever. You hope, with a guy like Veras, that his 2013 walk rate (8.7% versus career 12.0% mark) was not a blip so much as a change in approach.

Will Veras be anointed the closer right out the gate? It doesn’t seem like it, though getting him on a one-year deal with a reasonable option for 2015 seems like it was probably in part because the Cubs could offer the opportunity for Veras to win the closer’s job. Add in the incentives, which are almost certainly tied to games finished, and you’ve got a guy that probably chose the Cubs in the hope that he can be a closer, and then find another big-time contract after a year or two. Whether he’s actually used in that role is something that remains to be seen, and will probably be determined by his own effectiveness.

With the reasonable option for 2015, and the state of the Cubs’ overall roster, it’s fair to say that, yes, Veras is a flip candidate. Hopefully that’s not all he is to the 2014 team, but realism reigns.

Veras puts the Cubs’ 40-man roster at 40, for now.

  • Eternal pessemist

    SIGN ALL THE FLIP CANDIDATES!!!!! (Which is good i think!)

  • David

    Brett – do u think the TJ guy with the electric arm we got from Atlanta (forgot his name) will make the team if he has a good spring? And obviously he has to be healthy. What will his role be in the bullpen if he makes it?

    • mdavis

      i’m not brett, but Vizcaino almost certainly will start in Iowa regardless of the spring. he’s really been out of competitive baseball for almost 2 years. needs to work back into it, but a midseason call up isnt out of the question. i’d say late inning bullpen arm, probable future as a closer! here’s to hoping he stays healthy

      • Chad

        I agree that he will be a bullpen arm, but if he comes out and is just lights out I could see him making it to Chicago out of camp. I doubt that happens due to the things you list, but it is a possibility.

      • oswego chris

        reports had him throwing 98 over the winter….

        • Kyle

          Touching 98 in a semi-competitive setting means that most of your fastballs in regular-season games will be coming in around 93.

          • Oswego Chris

            Is there a math formula for that somewhere?…so do guys that throw 98 in games throw 103 in non-competitive settings?

            • Kyle

              I imagine someone probably could put together some sort of formula for reports of a guy “touching” a certain velocity versus what they actually averaged in games.

              Only four pitchers averaged 98 last year, according to fangraphs.

  • clark addison

    With Vizcaino, Fujikawa, Baez, and Bryant probably coming up midseason, the Cubs second half should be lots better than the last two years.

    • David

      It would be terrific if we don’t have a fire sale and go .500 for the 2nd half of 2014!!!!!

  • Kramden

    Vizcaino was a starter before the TJ, why can’t he be one afterward?

    Kinda like saying once a pitcher has TJ, he can only be a reliever.

    • brickhouse

      There has always been doubts if Vizcaino could stay healthy and be durable enough to stay a starter – many scouts have projected him as a bullpen arm

      • mdavis

        i dont think they should give up on him as a starter. but i think this year, most likely will have an innings limit, so that’s easier to manage out of the pen. and then maybe heading into 2015 season you stretch him out and have him give it a go for the rotation if they are comfortable with the health.

      • Kramden

        Some pitchers who go thru TJ come out of it with arms stronger than at any point in their professional careers.

        Key word: “some”

        • mdavis

          right, its possible. and i hope they give him a shot as starter. but i think this year, itll be about getting through it healthy and throwing x amount of innings. we’ll see.

    • Chad

      He was a good reliever for the Braves, that’s why I say he goes to the pen, but his durability issues have always been a concern.

    • Kyle

      Vizcaino’s problem isn’t *just* TJS surgery. It’s that he’s literally never had a fully healthy season. At this point, it’d probably take two years to build his arm strength up to be a full-time starter, and that’s in the unlikely event that he could actually make it through those two years without getting hurt.

      And seeing as how he already has two years of service time, I don’t see the point.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Veres should be a good flip candidate along with Russell and Villenueva. Pen of Veres, Strop, Villenueva, Rondon, Russell and Wright to start the season isn’t terrible I guess. Vizcaino’s progress at Iowa will be very key. Plus some depth guys like Parker and Rosscup will be at Iowa too by the looks of it.

    Still would live Jesse Crain.

  • cubmig

    I want to know what will happen to create openings on the 40 man to be “ready”…………??????

  • Spaulding, get your feet off the boat !

    Tanaka Fever, catch it.

  • Jon

    This signing surprised me a bit as he’s north of 30 and didn’t play for the BoSox or Padres but ill take it

  • Phil Oddo

    June Call-Ups: Baez, Bryant, Hendricks,

    September Call -Ups: Alcantara, Vizcaino, A. Cabrera, Villanueva, Szczur, Hoon-Ha, Neil Ramirez

    • Kyle

      Bryant probably not.

      Vizcaino will probably be before September if he can stay healthy, which he probably can’t. A March season-ending surgery is more likely than a September call-up.

      Cabrera has to be on the MLB team all year, he’s out of option.

      The rest seem reasonable.

      • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

        Yeah, I think its more likely we don’t see Bryant next year at the major league level. People won’t like that, but he would have to really kill it all year to go from AA to AAA to MLB especially under this FO. If our team is in a race (I don’t see it), he is killing it, and we need his production, maybe. Not likely, but that is possible.

      • CubFan Paul

        “Bryant probably not”


        The guy has not been challenged since drafted. AA probably won’t challenge him either.

        He should get the call up as soon as Schierholtz gets traded or injured.

        • BenRoethig

          Depends on how he does in AA. That being said, his fielding is below average for a starting 3B and both him and Baez may have a position change as they’re expected to outgrow their current defensive spots. (which you probably want to do in the minors).

          • CubFan Paul

            “He should get the call up as soon as Schierholtz gets traded or injured.”

            I was hinting at the outfield…

        • Kyle

          “Not being challenged by A+ or glorified fall training” should not lead one to conclude “probably going to be in the majors in the next three months of season time.”

          • CubFan Paul

            “should not lead one to conclude “probably going to be in the majors in the next three months of season time.””

            Why? Nothing wrong with the thinking of ‘AA may not be a challenge for him.’

      • BenRoethig

        I wouldn’t expect Baez in June either. His hitting may be near major league ready, but his fielding is atrocious. He makes Castro look like a gold glover and we know the flak Starlin takes for his defensive woes. I’d rather he get up and just have to work on playing the game.

        • CubFan Paul

          “but his fielding is atrocious”

          This is false by most accounts. Nor would he be the major league shortstop anyway

          • BenRoethig

            I don’t call 44 errors in 123 games and a .932 fielding % anywhere near par.

            • Brett

              Reading too much into error totals for shortstops in the lower minors is a mistake. They don’t mean a whole lot. You have to trust the scouts at that level.

              • Kyle

                Well, it’s a mistake for projecting their long-term defensive future, sure. But it’s not necessarily a mistake for trying to guess how they’d do immediately.

      • masher1965

        I agree, especially with Bryant. I don’t see the Cubs rushing Bryant up, unless he is simply tearing up the minors , plus, just where exactly is he starting the season off , in double A or triple A ?? If it is double A , he won’t be up early . As for Vizcaino, I suspect that if he shows some “life”, especially around the trading deadline, then that is when I expect him up. I would anticipate a slow start and for him to get better as the season goes, which would be enough to call him up after a flip or two .

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  • http://bleachernation Doc

    here is my dream
    Go get tanaka, trade for price,and have a rotation of tanaka price samardja wood and vizciano or jackson. That puts us in every game. play good baseball and we are in contention when we bring up baez and bryant. this rotation will take the pressure off the offense, let rizzo and castro stop pressing. also make it easy for the kids not to try to do too much when they come,
    this rotation can contend for the world series in 2014 and years beyond. there is no reason not to try to do this now. We can trade vogelbach almora alcantera edwards or any other starting pitcher in the minors for price and not hurt our future this would be great but I know, it’s a dream.
    go cubies

    • masher1965

      I can see the Cubs getting Tanaka, that does make sense . He is 25 and the Cubs can actually offer more years than most teams because the future is still a couple of years away. As for Price, I don’t see that trade. First off, the Rays will ask a big return and it will be from the farm system. Right now, the Cubs CAN’T trade a lot of them away, does anybody know which ones will make it and which ones won’t ?? If the Cubs had a few of them already performing at the majors, then ok, let’s see the cost , but now, I can’t see the Cubs paying that . Also, then they have to sign Price long term and can they ?? Will Price WANT to stay around until the Cubs become a contender ?? With Tanaka, the Cubs can get him signed for years, Price, they still have to get him signed AFTER they trade away a chunk of the farm system . I think that is too steep a cost and risk

  • Phil Oddo

    I don’t know why but I have the strangest feelingin the world that Neil Ramirez is going to end up being a very solid pick up for us. What do you think Kyle?

    • Kyle

      Out of my paygrade. I’m very intrigued by him, but it seems odd that we’re signing so many relievers and acing guys like him out of spots. That might be an indication the front office isn’t that high on him.

  • Phil Oddo

    Also will Vizcaino be a relief pitcher or a starter?

    • X The Cubs Fan

      I think they both start off as Relievers. I hope Vizcaino stays healthy, he can turn into a #2.

  • Spoda17

    Jim Bowden lists the Cubs as potential spot for Garza… I just don’t see that happening…

    • CubFan Paul

      Garza does fit ‘the plan’ as still being in his prime…

      • Commander bob

        The plan? You mean the same plan every other team has?

    • Dustin S

      I’d agree it’s pretty unlikely. Players usually take it as a negative to get traded, like they weren’t wanted. So you hear the media talk about players coming back a lot (it was discussed about Ted Lilly back in the day), but it rarely happens for that reason. Plus he’d know that he would probably get traded again, and it’s a pain for the player if they have to move themselves and family.

      If they were to bring a former player back, any would be doubtful but the most likely would probably be Maholm. If the interest in someone like him were low enough it might be enough for him to overlook the history and trade risk. But Garza will have other options, and Maholm probably will too.

      • masher1965

        Sometimes when a player does come back to a former team, they do end up being traded again. I do not know if Garza is on the Cubs radar, but IF the Cubs do resign him, they will not trade him for a couple of him, minimum . His contract will dictate that plus the situation will be different then when they traded him last year. If the Cubs are serious in the Tanaka sweepstakes and they fail, I can see Garza as a “plan B” sort of move .

  • Kramden

    That would be a stroke of brilliance to sign him to a reasonable deal without the no-trade and then flip him at the deadline for another haul of prospects.

    • Eric

      Not a good idea – no one is going to want to come here if we keep flipping everyone we sign. Doing so with guys like Feldman and Maholm on short-term deals is one thing but that would be another. I highly doubt Garza coming back is a realistic option anyway but if he did it wouldn’t be to trade away again.

      • Kramden

        No… At that point the no-trade clauses begin to make sense. In the meantime, the Cubs are stockpiling controlled prospects to sustain the pipeline.

        • Eric

          If you honestly think signing someone to a long-term contract at this point with the sole intention to flip him would not cause players to think twice about signing here you are delusional.

          • CubFan Paul

            Its effected Miami & Boston.

            No one will sign or play with Miami unless they absolutely have to, and Boston has to overpay for everyone on short term deals.

  • http://bleachernation Bobdawg78

    I’ve been hoping that we bring Garza back. Garza is young enough to be a part of the short and hopefully long term success that we should hopefully have coming soon. Garza will come at a fraction of the cost of Tanaka, and we know what we have in Garza, as opposed to having to guess on “what” Tanaka could be.

    Bringing Garza back, also solidifies our rotation. Having Garza and Samardzija at the front of our rotation, with Wood, Jackson, and probably Arrieta rounding out the last 3 spots is solid. Our bullpen is looking strong as well, and to a degree to full with capable pitchers. Russell has a lot of wear and tear on his arm the last few seasons, and I’d like to see him moved before ST. I think Rusin could be as good, or better in the pen, and Rusin could be a spot starter like Marshall was for us a few years ago.

    As far as position players, I want Barney gone. Valbuena should play 2nd, and 3rd should go to Olt. I’d like to see Vitters make the big league squad as a 4th of 5th OF, and backup corner IF. If Rizzo continues to not hit lefties, Vitters could get a lot of Ab’s against lefties playing 1B.

    • Commander bob

      One of the worst posts I have ever seen

      • greenroom

        Yeah Commander bob, you sure do make a great point and post yourself, good grief. I am for several of these but Garza is not coming back. He will get a lot of money from some team. I think they let Rizzo find his way against lefties this season. But I am really hoping Olt shows a little bit of his potential.

        • Commander bob

          Garza is not coming back because he wants to play for a winning team.

          • http://bleachernation Bobdawg78

            Then what do you suggest the Cubs do then Bob? Not give Vitters a chance? Keep Barney at 2nd, Valbuena at 3rd, and not bring up any of our stock pile of 3rd baseman we have in the minors? Maybe you think we should sign Jimenez to a Top dollar deal, lose a 1st round pick in the process?

    • cubbiehawkeye

      It would be nice to get Tanaka but just reading articles since xmas I feel like he is going to cost too much. Where do we draw the line of value with a 25 year old who throws 160 pitches in an outing. All that being said, if Tanaka doesn’t land in Chicago then I would be all for bringing back Garza.

  • Jon

    Garza wore out his welcome here. He isn’t coming back

    • mjhurdle

      If by “wore out his welcome” you mean pitched well enough to demand a bigger and longer contract than the Cubs are willing to give to someone his age, then yes, he “wore out his welcome”.

      • CubFan Paul

        No, he did it by being a “jerk” because he knew he was going to get traded.

        • masher1965

          How was he a “jerk” ?? He didn’t mouth off or cause dissension . Like any other player who gets asks a million times about being traded, he got tired of it. I never read or heard that he was a clubhouse problem or any of his teammates had a problem

          • CubFan Paul

            “He didn’t mouth off or cause dissension”

            Yeah he did.

            “I never read or heard that”

            Watch more games.

            • cubbiehawkeye

              “Watch more games.”

              I’ve watched 482 games in the last three years and he was never a jerk due to a lingering trade so false and false Cubfan Paul.

            • Commander bob

              Watch more games? That’s gold,Jerry. Real gold.

        • Danimal8

          Yeah, I think he was incredibly far from being a jerk. He kept his mouth shut during a very uncomfortable process.

          • Jm

            I do recall some controversial words coming from Garza, but think they were more directed at Svuem.

            • Blackhawks1963

              Garza has a well documented reputation around baseball for being a asshat. His act wore thin with the Cubs the same way it did in Tampa.

              • CubFan Paul

                I like the word asshat.