Norris, Veras drawing interest; hard to see them staying in Houston

The Houston Astros ' two main trading chips, starting pitcher Bud Norris and reliever Jose Veras , are drawing considerable interest, according to sources.

The likelihood would seem to be that both veteran players are traded from the also-ran team, as last-place Houston, which has done an excellent job gathering prospects lately, continues to shoot for 2015 and beyond. The Astros have said they don't have to trade Norris, as his $3-million salary isn't onerous, but it should also increase his desirability to other teams.

On the other hand, if they finish with the worst record, the Astros wrap up a third straight No. 1 overall pick in next year's draft -- not that they'd prefer losing. Carlos Rodon, a top lefthander out of North Carolina State, is seen as the likely plum of the draft.

Teams believed to have shown interest in Norris at some point include the Boston Red Sox , Pittsburgh Pirates , Philadelphia Phillies , Texas Rangers , San Francisco Giants , Los Angeles Dodgers and Baltimore Orioles -- though Texas has acquired Matt Garza , Baltimore Scott Feldman and the Dodgers Ricky Nolasco , while the Phillies and Giants still have to decide whether they are in the race. An AL West team probably should be, as Norris is 3-0 with a 0.32 ERA against the Los Angeles Angels but only 6-9 with a 3.91 ERA overall. Going into his start today, though, he's been roughed up in two straight, going 0-2 with a 10.97 ERA

Several teams have been looking for closers, including the Detroit Tigers and Red Sox, but just about every contending team is considering relief help, possibly now even the Pirates, who have closing star Jason Grilli on the shelf with a forearm issue. Veras has done a serviceable job closing in Houston, and is 0-4 with a 3.12 ERA while converting 18 of 21 saves.

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