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Chris Perez Rumors
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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. 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.
Yesterday, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported the Indians were never close to giving Jose Dariel Abreu the kind of money he received from their intra-divisional rival, the White Sox. In other Tribe tidbits from Hoynes:
- Re-signing Matt Capps to a minor league deal is not an indication the Indians are going to part ways with closer Chris Perez. If tendered a contract by the Indians, MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $9MM salary for the arbitration-eligible Perez. If Perez is traded or non-tendered, Hoynes names Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw as the best in-house replacements.
- Right-hander Jake Westbrook is definitely someone the Indians will keep an eye on this off-season, if healthy. The Cardinals are expected to decline their half of Westbrook's $9.5MM mutual option in favor of a $1MM buyout. The 36-year-old spent nine years in Cleveland before being acquired by the Cardinals at the 2010 Trade Deadline.
- Corey Hart is a tough fit for the Indians because his knee surgeries make it unlikely he can man the outfield and they already have Nick Swisher at first and Carlos Santana at DH. While the Indians have gambled on buy-low contracts for pitchers coming off an injury, Hoynes cannot recall such a deal for a position player. MLBTR's Steve Adams predicts the open market will bear a one-year, $8MM contract for Hart with an additional $2-4MM in incentives.
Indians GM Chris Antonetti and manager Terry Francona had an end-of-the-year roundup session with the media, including Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. Here are some of the hot stove-related items…
- It isn't yet clear if next season's Tribe payroll will be greater or lower than 2013's $80.6MM number, though Antonetti isn't worried. "That's information that we'll get a little later in the offseason when we find out exactly what our payroll will be," Antonetti said. "But that's not the defining thing for us. It's how we build a the best team and I'm confident we'll have the resources we need to build a contending team again next year."
- Pitching seems to be the top priority for the club this winter. When asked if the Indians would go after a middle-of-the-order hitter, Francona said, “It depends on how much pitching we have.”
- Ubaldo Jimenez hasn't made a decision about voiding the $8MM option the club has on his services for next season, Antonetti said. Unsurprisingly, Antonetti said the Tribe would be happy to have Jimenez back in 2014. MLBTR's Steve Adams wrote a Free Agent Profile on Jimenez last month.
- Both men want Jason Giambi to return to the Indians next season, either as a player, coach or possibly both. Giambi has said he wishes to keep playing, so it seems likely the two sides will work something out.
- The Indians will look at Chris Perez's whole career with the team as "the lens" for his arbitration case, Antonetti said, rather than Perez's poor end to the 2013 season. Perez earned $7.3MM last season and will get a raise through the arbitration process, so there have been rumors that the Tribe will look to deal or even non-tender the right-hander.
- Sandy Alomar Jr. will take over as first base coach from Mike Sarbaugh next season, a move that Francona stressed was not a demotion from Alomar's previous job as bench coach. Brad Mills (Francona's long-time bench coach with the Red Sox) will take over as Cleveland's bench coach, while Sarbaugh completes the shuffle by becoming the new third base coach.
- Antonetti didn't comment on whether or not the Cubs have asked for permission to interview first base coach Sandy Alomar for their vacant managerial position. Alomar was a candidate for the Cubs job in 2011 before they hired Dale Sveum, and he's been linked to their current vacancy.
- Lonnie Chisenhall is still the incumbent third baseman, though Bastian suspects the club will look to improve themselves at the hot corner this winter.
- The Indians made the playoffs despite subpar seasons from Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher, their two big free agent signings from last offseason. Francona and Antonetti felt that the two players may have been pressing in a new environment, plus Swisher was affected by a shoulder injury and Bourn was adjusting to the American League.
Closer is "the most overvalued position in baseball," Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes, an opinion shared by no less an authority than Hall-of-Famer closer Dennis Eckersley. Kepner notes that teams often err in signing closers to expensive contracts and then end up using replacement closers that were already on their rosters in the first place. “I don’t want to take away anything from what I did, but it’s not as tough as you think," Eckersley said. “You could groom somebody to do it who’s on the staff, if you manage it the right way."
While the agents of this year's free agent stoppers compose their counter-arguments, here are some more news items from around baseball…
- Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts isn't planning any major payroll increases in the near future, telling Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times that, "You can’t just throw money at the problem. We have to build the organization from the ground up. And that’s what we’re doing right now."
- Chris Perez will be shopped by the Indians this offseason, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer predicts, and Pluto thinks Perez will be pitching elsewhere in 2014. Perez will earn a raise from his current $7.3MM salary in the arbitration process and Pluto feels the Tribe will want to move him rather than pay the closer that much. Perez's solid season could help his trade value, as Pluto notes that the Indians found only an "iffy" market for Perez when they attempted to deal him last winter.
- "In a strict, WAR sense, [Kendrys Morales] may not compute to be worth $14 million or more per season. But the real cost the Mariners will have to weigh is what it would be like without him," The Seattle Times' Geoff Baker writes. While Morales has slumped lately, Baker argues that the M's are still short of big bats and thus need to at least extend Morales a qualifying offer.
- Paul Konerko answered a simple "No" to questions about any decisions on his playing future, MLB.com's Scott Merkin reports. We heard yesterday that Konerko was telling friends he wanted to keep playing in 2014, but the White Sox captain reiterated his stance that he would wait until a later date to make a decision.
- Fangraphs' Dave Cameron looks at which free agent hitters should or shouldn't receive qualifying offers from their current teams this winter.
- Neal Huntington would win a fictitious "MLB Comeback Executive of the Year" award, MLB.com's Tom Singer writes. The criticism faced by the Pirates GM has turned to praise as his recent moves have the Bucs on the cusp of their first playoff berth since 1992.
- Despite Ryan Vogelsong's tough season, Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com (via Twitter) thinks the Giants will pick up his $6.5MM team option for 2014 if the righty remains healthy. Vogelsong has a 5.49 ERA in 14 starts, but entering tonight's action, Vogelsong had posted a 2.93 ERA over five starts since returning from the disabled list.