(Reuters) - The reigning American League champion Detroit Tigers moved to strengthen their bullpen for another pennant run by acquiring Houston Astros closer Jose Veras on Monday as Major League Baseball's trade deadline nears.
Detroit sent outfield prospect Danny Vasquez and a player to be named later to Houston in exchange for 32-year-old Veras, who saved 19 games for the Astros with a 2.93 earned run average.
The move to shore up the bullpen came in advance of Wednesday's trade deadline and helped address a potential weakness for the Detroit (59-45), currently leading the AL Central by three games over the Cleveland Indians.
The Tigers, who have been shuffling bullpen roles throughout the season, plan to use Veras to set up Joaquin Benoit, who replaced Jose Valverde as closer about a month ago.
"Jose can pitch in a variety of roles, provides depth in the bullpen, and complements the roles of Joaquin Benoit and Drew Smyly," general manager Dave Dombrowski said in a statement.
Manager Jim Leyland applauded the deal.
"I like it. I like it a lot," Leyland told mlb.com. "We think he's pretty good. We saw him earlier this year."
The 19-year-old Vasquez, who signed for a lucrative bonus out of Venezuela, hit .281 with 16 doubles, five triples, five home runs and 39 runs batted in for their Single A minor league team.
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Gene Cherry)