Well well well, this is unexpected, but not unwelcome. According to Astros.com beat writer Brian McTaggart, the Astros have signed RHP Jose Veras to a minor league contract.
Astros sign RHP Jose Veras to a minor league contract. He will report to the club's extended Spring Training facility.— Brian McTaggart ⚾️ (@brianmctaggart) May 15, 2015
For those unfamiliar with Veras' storied history with the Astros, the 34-year-old bounced around the majors and minors for the entirety of his career after clawing his way out of the Yankees' farm system. From 2006 to 2015, he played for eight different organizations. He signed as a free agent with the Astros in December 2012, perhaps the most-discussed acquisition in TCB history, for whatever reason. He pitched incredibly as the Astros 2013 closer, with a 2.93 ERA and 19 saves, before being traded to the Tigers mid-season for OF Danry Vasquez (currently hitting .279/.313/.402 as a 21-year-old in his second season at High-A Lancaster) and David Paulino, who hasn't pitched since early 2013 due to injuries.
In 2014, Veras signed a $4 million free agent deal with the Chicago Cubs, where he was unable to repeat the success he showed as a member of the Astros. After posting a 8.10 ERA in 13 innings, the Cubs released him, whereupon he was signed to a minor league deal by the Astros. He then pitched 33 innings of 3.03 ERA with the Houston big league club, proving once again how awful the Cubs are.
His arsenal consists of a 93 mph sinker that he pairs with a good split-finger fastball and decent curveball. Veras was a popular fan target to return to Houston in 2015, but after the acquisitions of Will Harris, Luke Gregerson, and Pat Neshek, Houston had no incentive to add another free agent reliever, and Veras remained un-signed on the market after being released out of Spring Training by the Atlanta Braves.
For the remainder of the 2015 season, Veras' role with the club seems unclear at present, even given his past successes. Pitching depth is never a bad thing, but the Astros' bullpen boasts the 2nd-best ERA in the AL and the best FIP and xFIP, so there doesn't appear to be a performance-driven need for an extra arm.
The Astros' bullpen boasts the 2nd-best ERA in the AL and the best FIP and xFIP. I just wanted to type that again.
At this point for the 2015 Astros, Veras appears to be insurance against eventual struggles, or depth-on-hand in the event of a trade or injury. But there's nothing wrong with a strong unit getting stronger at minimum cost.