Indians closer Chris Perez offered some potentially controversial analysis of the Cleveland market in an interview that could put the outspoken right-hander back in the national spotlight. In particular, Perez highlighted that the Tigers regularly out-spend their division rivals in Cleveland.
“Different owners,” Perez told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. “It comes down to that. They [the Tigers] are spending money. He [owner Mike Ilitch] wants to win. Even when the economy was down, he spent money. He’s got a team to show for it. You get what you pay for in baseball. Sometimes you don’t. But most of the time you do.”
Perez went on to say that top baseball executives have a share of the responsibility as well. Owners don’t make the baseball decisions, so general managers must be accountable for player moves, he said.
“The GMs can only spend the money the owners give them, but they pick who they spend it on or who they don’t,” Perez said. “They pick. The owners don’t pick.”
Perez, 27, suggested the Indians would be better off if they had been more aggressive on last year’s free agent market.
“Josh Willingham would look great in this lineup. They didn’t want to [pony] up for that last year. … That’s the decision they make, and this is the bed we’re laying in,” he said.
The two-time All-Star earns $4.5MM this year and will go to arbitration this coming offseason. The Indians control his rights through 2014, but they could look to trade him before then in the opinion of MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (Twitter link). Perez has a 3.51 ERA with 10.4 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and 34 saves in 48 2/3 innings so far in 2012.
The Tigers rank fifth in MLB with a payroll of $132.3MM, according to USA Today. Meanwhile, the Indians rank 21st with a payroll of $78.4MM. President Mark Shapiro and GM Chris Antonetti run the team, which is owned by Larry Dolan.