On Joba Chamberlain and Jose Veras
The Tigers’ one-year contract with Joba Chamberlain became official on Friday, with a $2.5 million base salary and another $500,000 in performance bonuses based on appearances. The story on the site addresses the project ahead for Chamberlain and Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones as they try to get the former Yankees star back to his old form.
It’s an upside attempt, no doubt. Given the short-term status and salary, however, the deal raised the question whether the Tigers actually preferred a potential $3 million deal with Chamberlain over their $4 million option on Jose Veras, for whom the Tigers traded two prospects to acquire on July 30.
It’s a tricky comparison, given that the Tigers declined Veras’ option more than a month before signing Chamberlain. The way Dave Dombrowski and the Tigers front office plans out offseason moves, however, it was worth wondering.
Credit Mike Stone of 97.1 FM for raising the question to Dombrowski on the conference call announcing the trade, and credit Dombrowski for answering it.
“Yes, we did,” Dombrowski said. “No offense to Jose Veras, because he’s a solid guy and we liked him and we had a chance to bring him back. We like Joba. We like his abilities. We had our choice with a lot of guys out there on one-year deals, maybe even a two-year deal in a few cases. We’ve liked him in the past. Our scouts like him.”
For what it’s worth, it does not appear the Tigers pursued Veras for a lower salary after declining his option.
If you go by career numbers, there are similarities. The earned-run averages are almost identical — 3.84 for Veras, 3.85 for Chamberlain. Veras has way lower ratios on hits and walks per nine innings, and a higher strikeout rate.
For these two players, though, it’s not a straight statistical comparison. It’s a comparison of situation. Chamberlain’s peak is/was better than Veras’ peak, but Veras’ last 3-4 seasons have obviously been better than Chamberlain’s injury-shortened recent work. The Tigers clearly are taking their chance on getting close to the peak, whatever the odds, rather than the recent and not the average. That would seemingly back up Dombrowski’s notion that he was seeking a support reliever to back up Rondon as the primary setup man, not displace him.