Although it isn't the Yankees' number one priority, the bullpen is an area that will need some fixing in the offseason if the team wants to get back into contention. There are several relievers out on the open market that could help shore up the Yankees bullpen, some more attractive than others, but one who could be an attractive option is former Yankee Jose Veras.
Once upon a time, Veras was a staple in the Yankees' 2008 bullpen, pitching to a 3.59 ERA and 4.19 FIP in 60 appearances. Because of his solid season, Veras was slated to pitch in the late-innings heading into 2009, but instead he turned out to be a disaster, as he pitched to a bloated 5.96 ERA and 6.33 FIP across 25 outings. He was then designated for assignment and picked up by the Indians where he wasn't quite as bad, but still unimpressive.
Since 2009 has come and gone, however, Veras has turned out to be a pretty useful option in the late innings out of the bullpen. Over the last handful of seasons, spanning five teams (Marlins, Pirates, Brewers, Astros, Tigers), Veras has pitched to a 3.55 ERA (113 ERA+) and a 3.66 FIP while collecting 23 saves (21 coming with Houston in 2013) in 266 games and 248.2 innings during that period. Other than elbow surgery to clean up some bone chips six years ago, Veras has also been virtually immune to injures, which is part of why he appeared in the 18th-most games in the majors from 2010-2013.
In 2013, Veras pitched to a 3.02 ERA and 3.62 FIP split between the Astros (42 games, 43 innings) and the Tigers (25 games, 19.2 innings). Looking deeper into the numbers, though, Veras' strikeout and walk numbers weren't quite up to par with his career norms. In 2013, Veras posted an 8.6 K/9 while posting a 3.2 BB/9, which are both below/well below his career 9.4 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 rates prior to 2013. Veras, who has seen a decline in his fastball velocity each season in the Majors, has become more of a three-pitch, pitch-to-contact type of reliever. He's used his change up more than ever (14%) with his curveball being his main secondary pitch (32%) after the fastball (54%).
In a pretty puzzling move, Veras' $4 million option was declined by Detroit which is why Veras is available in the first place. Who knows why Detroit decided to cut him loose. He pitched well while he was there and in the postseason (despite the grand slam he served up to Shane Victorino to seal Game 6 of the ALCS for Boston), but maybe they're penny-pinching and looking for a cheaper option. I don't know why Detroit let him go, and, frankly, I don't care, either. Fact of the matter is he was let go despite coming off yet another solid season and set on earning an affordable $4 million in 2014. If the Yankees don't want to go into 2014 with a bunch of question marks in their 'pen (and they shouldn't), Veras could be a solution to help answer some late-inning questions.