The Chicago Cubs have agreed to a a one-year, $4 million contract with free-agent reliever Jose Veras that includes incentives and a club option for a second year, reports Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes. The right-hander will earn $5.5 million in 2015 if the Cubs pick up the option.
Veras will earn $3.85 million in 2014, and the buyout of his 2015 option is $150,000, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, who also reports that Veras can make an addition $750,000 in performance bonuses.
Veras started the 2013 season as the Astros' closer, then was shipped off to the Tigers at the trade deadline after a solid first half. The 33-year-old didn't close for Detroit but he continued to pitch well, finishing the year with a 3.02 ERA in 62⅔ innings between his two American League clubs.
The Tigers had the option of retaining Veras for just $3.25 million in 2014, but instead bought out his contract for $150,000 then spent some of the leftover money on a $2.5 million deal for Joba Chamberlain.
Veras' signing is just the latest in a series of moves that the Cubs have made to shore up their bullpen. Chicago's relief corps was among the National League's worst in ERA (4.04) and K/BB (1.99) last season, so the club has seemingly made it a point to bring in new arms. The club added another former Astro, left-hander Wesley Wright, on a one-year pact earlier this month and claimed young right-hander Liam Hendriks off waivers from the Twins last week.
Veras didn't have any real closing experience before taking on the role with Houston last season, but that probably won't keep the Cubs from using him in the ninth inning in 2014. Kevin Gregg closed for Chicago for much of last season, but he's now a free agent.