Tigers acquire reliever Veras from Astros

DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers added some help for their shaky bullpen Monday, acquiring reliever Jose Veras from the Houston Astros for minor league outfielder Danry Vasquez and a player to be named.

Veras is 0-4 with a 2.93 ERA and 19 saves this season, and the 32-year-old right-hander has struck out 44 in 43 innings with only 14 walks.

“We are pleased to add an experienced arm to our bullpen,” Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski said. “Jose can pitch in a variety of roles, provides depth in the bullpen, and complements the roles of Joaquin Benoit and Drew Smyly.”

Detroit entered the season with a lot of uncertainty at the closer spot, and although Benoit has pitched well in that role of late, the AL Central-leading Tigers still needed bullpen depth. Aside from Benoit and Smyly, none of their other relievers have been all that effective on a consistent basis.

Veras has been a steady contributor while bouncing from team to team in recent years. He posted a 3.75 ERA with Florida in 2010, a 3.80 ERA with Pittsburgh in 2011 and a 3.63 ERA with Milwaukee last season.

Houston signed him to a one-year deal last offseason, and the last-place Astros could certainly afford to trade their closer if the opportunity to acquire a solid prospect presented itself. Vasquez is only 19, but he was ranked by Baseball America as the sixth-best prospect in Detroit’s system before this season.

Vasquez hit .281 with five home runs and 39 RBIs in 96 games for Class A West Michigan this year.

“We are excited to get an outfield prospect of Danry’s caliber. He adds to an already formidable group of prospects at the A ball level,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “Jose will be missed as a team leader both on and off the field.”

Benoit has converted all 10 of his save chances for the Tigers this season, and the left-handed Smyly is 4-0 with a 1.77 ERA in 61 innings. In Veras, Detroit now adds a right-hander who can pitch in the late innings.

Before this trade, the Tigers’ top right-handed options in the late innings — aside from Benoit — were probably Al Alburquerque and Bruce Rondon. Alburquerque has struggled with his control, and although the hard-throwing Rondon has looked better lately, he’s still fairly unproven.

Detroit’s deadline deals have worked out well the last couple years. The Tigers acquired starter Doug Fister from Seattle in 2011 and added starter Anibal Sanchez and second baseman Omar Infante in a deal with the Marlins in 2012. Not only did those three players provide help when they arrived, but they’re also all still with the team.

This trade probably won’t generate as much buzz as those deals, but it helps fill a need for a Detroit team that’s hoping to return to the World Series after being swept by San Francisco a year ago.

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