The signing of Jose Veras by the Chicago Cubs was a questionable move even before he had been handed the ball in the ninth inning. Now that he has failed in spectacular fashion in the role, the decision appears even more dubious.
The Cubs didn’t commit much time or resources to Veras, as the journeyman reliever signed a modest one-year deal worth $4 million with various incentives attached. There is also a $5.5 million option for 2015, which it seems safe to assume the Cubs won’t be exercising. Veras was really bad right from the beginning, and it didn’t take long for him to completely implode.
Veras blew his very first save opportunity with the Cubs against the Pittsburgh Pirates on the road, and totaled two blown saves in only six appearances. In this limited action, Veras has compiled some truly horrific numbers, with a 15.88 ERA and a 2.82 WHIP. In only 5 2-3 innings of work, Veras has allowed 10 earned runs on six hits while walking a disturbing 10 batters. His failure has been thorough and comprehensive.
Again, the Cubs assumed a minimum of risk with the Veras deal, but it is still unclear what the thought process was behind this move. Veras has been a serviceable pitcher for a number of teams, but had never been a full-time closer until last season. The Cubs are clearly not contending in 2014, so it would have made more sense to explore some internal options at closer instead of signing a 33-year-old journeyman relief pitcher.
Veras was officially placed on the disabled list with a left oblique injury, and while this may be the case, it seems the Cubs just wanted to get him out of the bullpen for a while. Veras made two appearances after losing the closer gig, and was awful in both of them. At this point, it would be nice if the Cubs could reestablish some value for Veras in the hopes of trading him sometime over the summer. However, to do this, he would probably have to start closing again, but that is a train wreck the Cubs would just assume avoid.