Jack Of All Trades: Oliver Perez

It's been a rough week for Oliver Perez, and given his overall tenure with the Mets, that is no small feat. Thanks to his 9.00 spring ERA and inability to throw strikes or reach 90 miles per hour with his fastball, the Mets removed Perez from consideration for the starting rotation. Those difficulties are likely to lead to Perez's failure in the bullpen, too, and his eventual release.

If this is where it ends, Perez will almost certainly be viewed as a cautionary tale from an acquisition perspective. After all, the Mets signed Perez to a three-year, $36MM contract prior to the 2009 season, only to receive 112 1/3 innings of 6.81 ERA pitching. So it may surprise some to find out that both times teams traded for Oliver Perez, they came out ahead.

The San Diego Padres signed Oliver Perez as an amateur free agent back in 1999. By 2002, he made his big league debut as a 20-year-old, displaying both the now-faded ability to strike batters out in droves and his still-present tendency to walk more than his share of hitters. Nevertheless, he offered tantalizing ability, leading to the Padres' decision to trade Perez, a 24-year-old Jason Bay and minor leaguer Corey Stewart to Pittsburgh for a 32-year-old Brian Giles.

While Giles had a decent-but-costly run of strong offense and diminishing defense for the Padres, Perez and Bay quickly made the deal look like a steal for the Pirates. Perez posted a 2.98 ERA in 196 innings, while Bay posted a .907 OPS and won the NL Rookie of the Year.

Put it wins above replacement terms, Perez earned a WAR of 5.1 in 2004, well above Giles' 3.0 and Bay's 2.2. In fact, Perez's 2004 was a more valuable season than any that anyone in the trade would enjoy, other than Jason Bay's 2009.

But contrast the $8.8MM salary Giles earned in 2004 with the $321K Perez took home, and $305K from Bay, and the gap becomes enormous.

Perez did go on to struggle in 2005 and 2006, with Bay carrying the lion's share of the value for the Pirates in subsequent years. Still, when Pittsburgh decided to unload Perez in 2006, it was the receiving team, the New York Mets, who benefited.

On July 31, 2006, New York traded starting right fielder Xavier Nady to the Pirates for Perez and Roberto Hernandez, a relief pitcher tabbed to replace the injured Duaner Sanchez. And while Perez struggled over the remainder of the 2006 season, he posted a 1.4 WAR in 2007 and a 1.5 WAR in 2008. By contrast, Nady provided -0.9 WAR in 2007 for the Pirates, and 1.9 WAR in 2008. Roberto Hernandez even chipped in another 0.2 WAR for the Mets at the tail end of 2006 to even out Nady and Perez that season.

Naturally, there are Mets fans who blame the trade for the subsequent contract debacle, just as a divorced couple often turns on the person who introduced them. Perez, in an odd bit of symmetry, followed his 1.4 and 1.5 WAR seasons in 2007 and 2008 with a -1.4 mark in 2009 and -1.5 in 2010, as if to erase every bit of good he'd done the team.

Still, all that proves is that signing Oliver Perez to a massive free agent contract hasn't been a good idea. Trading for Perez, on the other hand, is a winning proposition. Let this be a lesson to the other 29 teams, who probably have a few weeks at most before the only way they can acquire Perez is for free.

22 Responses to Jack Of All Trades: Oliver Perez Leave a Reply

  1. johnsilver 4 years ago

    No offense Mets fans, but won’t it be nice when you get rid of your own version of Julio Liugo and everyone gets off of your backs over him? It’s like.. Just get it over with.. This guy is as of much use as Lugo was.. He ain’t going to help the Mets, or anyone else.. Cut him already and let him go vamoosh back to wherever the heck he came from.

    • adropofvenom 4 years ago

      Pretty sure every Mets fan has been calling for that for over a year now…..difference is, it’s finally probably actually going to happen in 2 weeks.

    • icedrake523 4 years ago

      How is that offensive to Met fans? I don’t think any of us want Perez on the team.

      • johnsilver 4 years ago

        That was the point and how many of us have brought it up here the last 2 years..Myself included.. Just like how many folks brought up the Lugo signing like a horse collar around Epstein’s neck for a couple of years until Epstein ditched him for that nobody Duncan kid, then released him.

        Sometimes it’s just better to cut your losses and be done with it.

  2. thegrayrace 4 years ago

    Did anyone (outside of the Mets front office) not realize what a terrible signing that was at the time?

  3. You should probably note that you’re using rWAR, not fWAR.

  4. Infield Fly 4 years ago

    “Jack of all trades?” More like “jack of all asses.”

    Ollie is inconsiderate…clueless…and just useless.

    • chicothekid 4 years ago

      I was wondering about the “jack of all trades” thing myself. That implies that he can do a little bit of everything, when it’s actually just the opposite. He sucks at quite a few things, and isn’t very good at anything.

      can’t hit, can’t bunt, can’t field, can’t start, can’t relieve, can’t even get demoted to the minors. Besides taking a paycheck and whining about it, we really haven’t figured out what he CAN do.

  5. Keep in mind that the Pirates went on to trade Nady (whom they received for Perez) to the Yankees for three players including promising starting OF Jose Tabata.

    • riker2 4 years ago

      Actually, four players, although (Tabata, Ohlendorf, Karstens, and D. McCutchen) for Nady and Marte.

  6. juice587 4 years ago

    Coming from a Phillies fan you have to put this in perspective. At the time of the signing he was coming off a pretty consistent 2 year period, one in which he completely dominated the Phillies, who had just won the World Series. His numbers against Philly were downright nasty in ’08. He pitched 26 innings against them, giving up only ONE run with only 11 BB’s and 27 K’s. His ERA was 0.35 with a 1.08 WHIP and a BAA of .181 vs. the predominantly left-handed hitting Phils lineup. Knowing that they could set him up with 5 or 6 starts against the Phillies the next season, you can’t really blame them, considering the importance of division games. That combined with the fact that everyone was overpaying for starting pitching at that time.

  7. TheHotCorner 4 years ago

    And to think at one point Boras compared Perez to Sandy Koufax.

    • stratomaticfan 4 years ago

      I almost threw up in my mouth when I read that. Perez compared to Koufax.

  8. hoagiebuchanan 4 years ago

    More like jerk of all trades

  9. Chrisn313 4 years ago

    Greatly entertaining article. Funny that he matched his WAR in the negatives…

  10. i never thought the contract was terrible. at the time i begged for perez over lowe or wolf. maybe in retrospect i would sign wolf over perez but not lowe over perez.

    i lost it for him last season when he forced us to play with a 24 man roster because he refused going to AAA.

  11. Giorgi Almonte 4 years ago

    yep, that was like a miracle…

  12. Infield Fly 4 years ago

    When I saw that I thought maybe somebody spiked my beer….

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