FEBRUARY 16: Peralta can earn a hefty $2.5MM in incentives, Heyman tweets.
FEBRUARY 9, 5:21pm: Jon Heyman reports that Peralta’s contract comes with a $1.25MM base salary, should he make the club (Twitter link). That figure can increase based on performance incentives.
1:02pm: The Mariners have signed veteran righty Joel Peralta to a minor league deal, per a club announcement. A client of Mark Gilling, he will receive an invitation to Major League camp.
Peralta will be entering his age-40 season after a subpar campaign with the Dodgers in which he battled through shoulder and neck issues. He ended with a 4.34 ERA over just 29 frames with 7.4 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9. Peralta has never induced many groundballs, which continued last year, and he struggled to prevent the long ball (1.86 HR/9, 14.6% home run per flyball rate).
That marked a significant downturn from his prior years’ efforts. Dating back to a breakout 2010, in which he emerged as a quality pen piece for the Nationals at 34 years of age, Peralta averaged a 3.34 ERA (with an identical 3.34 FIP) and 9.7 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9 for a five-year stretch.
If there’s hope for a return to that lofty standard, it may lie in the fact that Peralta has never been reliant upon velocity and still works with something close to the same average fastball speed that allowed him to succeed previously. By measure of Pitch F/X pitch values, the veteran’s heater and splitter remain quality offerings, with his curveball turning suddenly into a huge negative. If that can be fixed, then perhaps he reverse a sharp drop in his swinging strike rate (from 11.7% to 7.9%, year over year).
A glance at the incredible Brooks Baseball database shows some inconsistency in the breaker. Peralta’s release speed on the hook was much lower than usual to start the year, with the offering losing a bit of vertical movement as he increased his arm action. It is worth noting that Peralta allowed just two earned runs in his final ten frames, including one postseason appearance, while logging a dozen strikeouts without permitting a free pass.
If nothing else, Peralta provides some depth — if not some upside as well — to a re-worked Mariners pen. As ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark notes on Twitter, he joins Steve Cishek, Joaquin Benoit, Justin DeFratus, Evan Scribner, and others in a unit that lost players like Fernando Rodney (free agency), Carson Smith (trade), and Tom Wilhelmsen (trade).