Chris Perez Rumors

Central Notes: Eaton, Henderson, Perez, Jackson, Wood

Today’s biggest transactional news came out of Chicago, as the White Sox continued to set the stage for the future by extending outfielder Adam Eaton. The 26-year-old expressed plenty of excitement for the new deal, though it sounds as if he did not quite enjoy the process that it took to reach agreement, as Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com tweets“I didn’t sleep much,” said Eaton. “Very stressful. I don’t know how the other side felt. It was long.”

Let’s have a look at a few more notes from the central divisions:

  • Former Brewers closer Jim Henderson was reassigned to minor league camp today as he continues to show slow progress in his return from shoulder surgery, as MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports. Henderson has been throwing his fastball at about five to ten miles per hour below his peak mid-to-upper-90s offering from recent seasons.
  • Fellow righty Corey Knebel has also been shipped to the minor league side of camp by the Brewers, writes McCalvy, leaving Chris Perez, Tyler Thornburg, and Rob Wooten to battle over the final pen role. Perez is in camp on a minor league deal and has Article XX(B) protection, meaning that the team will either need to put him on the active roster, pay him a $100K bonus in the minors (and give him a June 1 opt-out date), or release him. The other two players still have options.
  • Cubs skipper Joe Maddon says he is talking with president of baseball operations Theo Epstein about a creative means to fit both Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood on the 25-man roster, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat tweets. Jackson is in the midst of a substantial free agent contract, while Wood is out of options. A transaction would be necessary should either player not make the club out of camp.

NL Notes: Epstein, Diamondbacks, Brewers

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has nothing to report about whether he might soon receive an extension, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune writes. “That’s a private matter,” says Epstein. “I look at it and the club looks at it like this is going to be a longer-term marriage, and we’re not concerned about the fact there is no extension.” Epstein’s contract ends after 2016. With salaries for big-name executives increasing (Sullivan points out that Andrew Friedman got five years and $35MM from the Dodgers), Sullivan wonders if Epstein could go elsewhere after his contract expires if the Cubs’ rebuild pans out as most fans hope. Here are more notes from the National League.


Brewers Sign Chris Perez To Minor League Deal

6:48pm: Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports (via Twitter) that Perez can top out at $3MM if he hits all of the incentives in his contract. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets that $1.5MM of that will be his base salary upon making the club, and the deal has another $1.5MM worth of incentives based on games finished.

6:16pm: The Brewers announced that they have signed right-hander Chris Perez to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league Spring Training. Perez, formerly the closer for the Indians, will compete for a spot in the Milwaukee bullpen.

The 29-year-old Perez spent the 2014 season with the Dodgers, where he worked to a 4.27 ERA in 46 1/3 innings. However, despite moving back to the National League — he originally came up with the Cardinals — Perez posted the second-worst K/9 rate of his career (7.6) as well as his worst BB/9 rate to date (4.9).

Perez has struggled to a 4.31 ERA over the past two seasons — a span of 100 1/3 innings — but he was generally more effective during his 2010-12 peak with Cleveland. In that time, Perez totaled a 2.84 ERA and made a pair of All-Star teams while saving 98 games. As Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel notes (on Twitter), the Brewers have been looking for a reliever with closer experience, and Perez certainly fits that bill with a low cost of acquisition.

Presumably, the signing of Perez doesn’t preclude the Brewers’ search to add to their 40-man roster, however. Milwaukee has been linked on and off to Jonathan Papelbon over the past two weeks, and they’re also said to be interested in a reunion with Francisco Rodriguez, who has been with Milwaukee for parts of the past four seasons.



NL Notes: Nashville, Phillies, Maeda, Perez, Pagan

We recently covered the many changes in minor league affiliates. One of those — the Brewers parting ways with former Triple-A affiliate Nashville — appeared to feature considerable consternation on the MLB team’s part. As Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, Nashville’s owner has now acknowledged that he wanted a new parent club because the Brewers had not done enough to put a winning ballclub on the field at the Triple-A level. Nashville’s new MLB club, the Athletics, has enjoyed a strong recent run of success at the top minor league level.

  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has logged significant air miles in recent days, as Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. In addition to taking a personal look at Yasmany Tomas, Amaro flew to Japan to put eyes on starter Kenta Maeda, as MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reports on Twitter. Both international targets offer relative youth, a rare commodity on the free agent market, though that obviously increases their appeal to other clubs as well.
  • Dodgers reliever Chris Perez has already earned $1.5MM in incentives this year on top of his $2.3MM base salary, reports Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. He picked up $500K each for his 35th, 40th, and 45th appearances, and will trigger another half-million payday with his next call from the pen. The 29-year-old has struggled to a 4.27 ERA over 46 1/3 frames, and his peripherals (7.6 K/9, 4.9 BB/9, 37.7% groundball rate, 5.07 FIP) do not paint a more favorable picture.
  • Giants center fielder Angel Pagan will undergo season-ending back surgery, Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News tweets. The 33-year-old has performed well when healthy, but has made just 718 plate appearances since signing a four-year, $40MM contract before the 2013 season.

Dodgers Sign Chris Perez

TUESDAY, 1:47pm: The Dodgers confirmed the deal via press release.

"Chris expressed an interest in coming here and pitching in any role Don asks of him,” said Colletti. “We see him adding depth and experience to our bullpen and while Kenley [Jansen] and Brian [Wilson] will close games, we play so many tight games that we couldn’t pass up the chance to add another reliever who has experienced success in the 7th, 8th and 9th inning. It’s a great opportunity for both Chris and the Dodgers."

MONDAY, 7:44pm: Perez's base salary will be $2.3MM, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets.

7:16pm: Perez will make a base salary of around $2.25MM, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets. The deal is also heavy on incentives, and Fletcher notes Perez might be able to make up to about $6MM in a setup role, or $8MM if he becomes the Dodgers' closer.

10:18am: The Dodgers and free agent right-hander Chris Perez are in agreement on a one-year deal, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Perez will take his physical today, according to Rosenthal. Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times first reported last night that the Dodgers were nearing a deal with Perez, who is represented by Nez Balelo of CAA Sports.

Perez-Chris

The 28-year-old Perez looked to be on his way to another strong season with the Indians in 2013, having gone 17-for-19 in save opportunities and pitched to a 2.52 ERA with a 30-to-13 K/BB ratio through his first 35 2/3 innings. However, Perez unraveled in an Aug. 5 outing that saw him surrender four earned runs without recording an out. He would go on to allow 16 earned runs over his final 18 1/3 innings with the Indians.

Because he was projected to earn as much as $9MM via arbitration this winter, the Indians made the decision to release him shortly after season's end rather than pay him that lofty salary. Instead, Indians GM Chris Antonetti elected to bring in John Axford on a one-year, $4.5MM pact.

Perez's salary and on-field performance may not have been the only contributing factor to that decision. He also plead no contest to drug charges after he and his wife had a small package of marijuana shipped to their home. He also spoke out against the Indians' lack of spending on the free agent market following the 2012 season.

Despite those issues, there's no denying that Perez has the ability to succeed in a late-inning role for the Dodgers. From 2010-12, Perez served as Cleveland's primary stopper, posting a 2.84 ERA with 98 saves, 7.9 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9. That strikeout rate is a bit misleading, as it's weighed down by an abnormally low 5.9 K/9 in 2011. Perez whiffed rougly a batter per inning in both 2010 and 2012, and he's averaged 8.7 punchouts per nine innings in his career as a whole.

Perez will likely slot into the seventh inning for the Dodgers, given the presence of Brian Wilson and Kenley Jansen at the back-end of the bullpen. J.P. Howell, Paco Rodriguez, Brandon League and Chris Withrow will round out manager Don Mattingly's relief corps in 2014.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Dodgers Nearing Deal With Chris Perez

The Dodgers are close to reaching agreement on a one-year deal with reliever Chris Perez, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports. Perez is represented by Nez Balelo of CAA Sports.

Perez, 28, posted a 4.33 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 for the Indians last season. He spent parts of four seasons as Cleveland's closer, but he lost that job late in the 2013 season after he struggled in August and September. The Indians released him in late October rather than paying him the projected $9MM he would have made through the arbitration process.

In Los Angeles, Perez likely won't have to close, or even necessarily to pitch particularly high-leverage innings. Kenley Jansen looks set to continue to be the Dodgers' closer, and righties Brian Wilson and Chris Withrow will likely be ahead of Perez on the depth chart.


Latest On Orioles’ Closer Situation

Here's the latest on the Orioles' pursuit of a closer courtesy of a series of tweets from MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko. The Orioles are upset at the idea that they "backed out" of their agreement with Grant Balfour, as they don't have another closer in waiting. They heeded their doctors' recommendations after Balfour's physical, and now would not be comfortable signing him for more than a year plus an option.

With a deal with Balfour now unlikely, the Orioles could pursue Fernando Rodney, or just give their closer's job to one of their current pitchers. Free agent Chris Perez does not seem to be a possibility. The Orioles have discussed the possibility of a Jonathan Papelbon trade with the Phillies, but Papelbon's contract is an obstacle. The Phillies owe Papelbon $13MM in both 2014 and 2015, and he also has a $13MM vesting option for 2016.


Reliever Rumors: Mets, Orioles, Mariners, Tigers

Considering how many teams continue to seek bullpen help, it shouldn't come as a surprise that we're following up our earlier post on reliever rumors with another round of them. Let's dive in…

  • The Mets have kicked the tires on Chris Perez as a potential late-inning addition, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com (Twitter link). DiComo notes that Perez could serve as ninth-inning insurance for New York if Bobby Parnell isn't healthy.
  • In addition to Perez, Mitchell Boggs is receiving interest from the Mets, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Boggs was non-tendered after a subpar 2013, but is viewed as an intriguing buy-low candidate by New York, says Sherman.
  • Baltimore could be another potential fit for Perez, but the Orioles are also eyeing Grant Balfour and John Axford, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter link).
  • The Mariners don't appear to be prioritizing bullpen additions at this point, according to GM Jack Zduriencik, who says that with their available money, the M's "would look at adding a legitimate closer as a lower priority" (Twitter link via Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune).
  • Noting that Dave Dombrowski has suggested the Tigers may take a flier on a veteran as insurance for Bruce Rondon, MLB.com's Jason Beck wonders if Octavio Dotel might be a fit to return to Detroit (Twitter link).

Reliever Rumors: Balfour, Perez, Logan, O’Flaherty

We haven't seen a ton of action yet from Orlando today, but plenty of smaller-scale rumors have been trickling in throughout the day, including plenty related to the bullpen market. Let's round up a few of the latest updates on some available relief pitchers….

  • The Indians, who are in the market for a closer, have spoken to Grant Balfour, sources tell Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link).
  • Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter) that Chris Perez is in attendance in Orlando to meet with teams in person, which Olney sees as a good move, considering how Perez's 2013 season played out.
  • The Tigers sound lukewarm on the bullpen market at this point, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com (via Twitter), who says that stance could change once more closer openings are filled and free agents shift their focus to setup jobs.
  • The Yankees, Nationals, and Padres have all been involved in the lefty relief market to varying degrees, according to Morosi (via Twitter).
  • New York has stayed in touch with Boone Logan, tweets Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger. However, Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com (Twitter link) hears that Logan is hoping to earn a role as a setup man, rather than simply as a LOOGY.
  • The Braves have spoken with the agent of Eric O'Flaherty, but that appears to be on the backburner for now, particularly since he's drawing interest from other teams, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Indians Release Chris Perez

The Indians announced that they have released closer Chris Perez. The right-hander would have been eligible for arbitration for the final time this winter, and MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected a $9MM salary, making him a clear non-tender candidate. Perez-Chris By releasing Perez now, the Indians are essentially non-tendering him, but they won't have to use a 40-man roster spot on a player they knew they weren't going to retain. Likewise, it's beneficial to Perez, as it gives him and agent Nez Balelo of CAA additional time to explore the free agent market.

The 28-year-old Perez earned $7.3MM this season and pitched to a 4.33 ERA in 54 innings. Perez saved 25 games and posted a solid 9.0 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9, but he became shockingly homer-prone and wilted in the season's final two months, posting a 7.52 ERA with seven homers allowed in his final 20 1/3 innings of work.

Originally acquired along from the Cardinals (along with fellow right-hander Jess Todd) in exchange for Mark DeRosa, Perez has served as the Tribe's closer for the past four seasons. In 267 2/3 career innings with Cleveland, he's registered a solid 3.33 ERA and saved 124 games, averaging 8.4 strikeouts per nine frames along the way.

Perez will join a crowded market for closers that also includes Joe Nathan, Brian Wilson, Fernando Rodney, Joaquin Benoit, Grant Balfour, Kevin Gregg and Edward Mujica. His late season struggles and the stiff competition on the free agent market might make it difficult for him to land a closing gig this offseason. He comes with a bit of personal baggage, having recently pleaded no-contest and being convicted of misdemeanor drug abuse after having marijuana shipped to his home. Perez was fined, placed on probation for a year and will speak to youth about drug use (per the Associated Press).

With Perez out of the picture, the Indians will have some work to do at the back of their bullpen. Fellow right-hander Joe Smith is also a free agent, and Vinnie Pestano experienced quite a bit of regression in 2013.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.