Astros get 19-year-old outfielder for Veras
Vasquez was playing in Class A for Tigers, who acquire closer for stretch run
BALTIMORE -- The Astros made another trade to bolster their farm system Monday by acquiring outfielder Danry Vasquez and a player to be named later from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for right-handed pitcher Jose Veras.
Veras was disappointed about leaving Houston, but looked forward to joining the Tigers.
"[The Astros have] a good clubhouse, and now I have to go to another place where I'm going to meet guys I haven't been with before," said Veras. "I have some teammates [in Detroit] that I played with before, like Omar Infante. We worked together with the Marlins. We're friends. Ramon Santiago, Brayan Pena -- I played with them in the Dominican Winter League.
"The bottom line is I'm not going to be in a stranger's house. I have some friends over there, too. I can say I'm happy, I can say I'm sad, but I feel Houston's my home and now I'm going to another place and it's going to be a little tough. I feel good because it's a team that has an opportunity to be in the playoffs."
Vasquez, 19, will report to Class A Quad Cities. He had spent the 2013 season at Class A West Michigan, where he hit .281 (105-for-374) with 16 doubles, five triples, five homers and 39 RBIs in 96 games. MLB.com had Vasquez ranked as the Tigers' No. 4 prospect.
The trade is the latest in a series of deals made by Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow in the past year in which he dealt a veteran player and received a prospect in return. It's all part of Luhnow's ongoing rebuilding process.
Prospect acquired by Astros
- Danry Vasquez, OF: Vasquez was ranked No. 4 on the Tigers' Top 20 at the time of the trade. Given a large bonus to sign out of Venezuela in 2010, Vasquez was pushed quickly and was sent to full-season ball in 2012. The outfielder wasn't ready for the challenge, but he did bounce back, hitting well in the New York-Penn League after his demotion. Vasquez was back in the full-season Midwest League this year and was more than holding his own. Only 19, Vasquez projects to be an above-average hitter, one who should continue to hit for average as he progresses. He's still raw and has plenty of room to fill out as he physically matures. It's unclear just how much power Vasquez will grow into, but he could end up being a 12- to 15-homer type. He's settled into left field, where he should be an average defender, but it's his bat that should help him move up the Astros' ladder.
-- Jonathan Mayo
"There was some significant interest in Veras," Luhnow said. "Obviously, he's been successful in the bullpen, and we're going to miss him. Really, I felt like this was an opportunity to improve our organization as a whole for a player who can help a playoff-contending team.
"I really like the player we got back. I've been following him since he was an international free agent. And he's at the A ball level, and you plug him into Quad Cities with [Rio] Ruiz, [Carlos] Correa and the pitchers there, it's a pretty formidable group there and pretty exciting. He's young and has a tremendous upside. He has the potential to be hit in the middle of the lineup."
Veras signed with the Astros during the offseason and went 0-4 with a 2.93 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 2013. He recorded 19 saves in 22 opportunities, including 11 in a row. The trade leaves Houston with a void at closer in a bullpen that was already struggling to protect leads.
Veras was one of the few bright spots in a bullpen that has a Major League-worst 5.17 ERA and has blown 15 saves. The Astros still need to make a roster move to fill Veras' spot. A candidate to step into the closer's role could be rookie Jose Cisnero (2-2, 3.48 ERA), but Houston would be giving the job to someone with no Major League closing experience.
"There's an opportunity in our bullpen for guys to step and take advantage of the opportunity that presents itself," Luhnow said. "We'll see. You can never tell how someone is going to react in the ninth inning until they're in that situation. There are guys who have the ability to do it. They'll have an opportunity for sure."
With the non-waiver Trade Deadline coming Wednesday at 3 p.m. CT, the Astros could still deal starting pitcher Bud Norris, but nothing is imminent. Norris has attracted significant interest and is scheduled to start Tuesday's series opener against the Orioles.
"There's nothing close at this point, but we still have two and a half days to go and still a lot of activity could happen, even though nothing's close," Luhnow said.
The Astros have now bid adieu to three free-agent veterans they signed in the offseason: outfielder Rick Ankiel, first baseman/designed hitter Carlos Pena and Veras. Ankiel was released in May and Pena was designated for assignment last week.