Chris Perez Rumors
A month after criticizing his club's management and decision-making process, Indians closer Chris Perez told media (including MLB.com's Jordan Bastian) that he didn't speak out in an attempt to be traded and that he wants to keep pitching in Cleveland. According to Perez, the firing of manager Manny Acta alleviated some of his issues with the team.
"A lot of frustration from those comments, a lot of that walked out the door last week. I'll just leave it at that," Perez said. "It doesn't mean everything is in tip-top shape over here. Obviously, we fell short of our goals and we need to see why."
I profiled Perez as a trade candidate in the wake of his original comments and noted that even if he hadn't spoken out, the closer could have been dealt anyway given that he earned $4.5MM this season and will be in line for a raise this winter when he is arbitration-eligible for the second time. Perez said he spoke to Indians GM Chris Antonetti on Monday and doesn't believe he will be traded (as tweeted by Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer), but if he is, it's a sign that the Indians aren't planning to contend in 2013.
"That's a business decision that they're going to have to make," Perez said. "That's not up to me. That's not my decision. I have two years left here at least. Right now, it's up to them. I think whatever they decide to do is definitely going to tell you which way the team is going one way or the other...I kind of find it hard to see them keeping me here and then trading other people. But, you never know."
The Blue Jays shouldn’t part with manager John Farrell unless they are confident they can hire a comparable replacement and make the Red Sox pay dearly for their former pitching coach, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. The Blue Jays could start by asking for Clay Buchholz again, Rosenthal suggests. Here’s more from around MLB, starting with Farrell...
- People who know Farrell find it difficult to believe he’d try to force his way out of Toronto, Rosenthal reports. The Blue Jays appear to value Farrell and don’t want to see him leave.
- Most MLB teams wanted to develop Jurickson Profar as a pitcher when he was an amateur player, Rosenthal reports. The Rangers built a relationship with Profar, who wanted to play shortstop.
- Scouts following the Indians like the team’s up-the-middle talent, but say the body language of manager Manny Acta suggests he’s resigned to losing. The Indians are expected to consider trade offers for Justin Masterson, Shin-Soo Choo and Chris Perez this offseason and rival teams wonder if they’d listen to offers for Asdrubal Cabrera.
- Indians officials are “livid” with Perez for his comments about the team’s ownership and top baseball executives, Rosenthal writes. Perez questioned the Indians’ decision making and spending last week in an interview with Jon Paul Morosi. Some executives viewed those remarks as an attempt to get traded, Rosenthal reports.
- One Orioles person points out that Andy MacPhail traded for many of the Orioles’ key players in a series of successful deals. MacPhail dealt for players such as J.J. Hardy, Pedro Strop, Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter, Robert Andino and Adam Jones before stepping down following the 2011 season.
- Though the Nationals would like to retain Adam LaRoche, they can rely on internal options if the first baseman’s asking price reaches the three-year, $33-36MM range. Similarly, the Nationals might decide not to pursue Michael Bourn despite the long-standing expectation that they will offer him a competitive free agent contract.
- The Brewers will need to sign a starting pitcher and fix their bullpen this coming offseason, Rosenthal writes.
Chris Perez is enjoying a nice comeback season in 2012 and made the All-Star team, but the Indians closer has mostly drawn attention for his statements off the field. Perez criticized Cleveland fans for low attendance and a perceived lack of support last spring, and now the right-hander has spoken out against team management in a recent interview with FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi.
Perez is clearly frustrated in Cleveland, and if his latest comments were the last straw for Indians' management, it might be best for both sides if they parted ways this offseason. The Indians have a deep bullpen that includes the likes of Vinnie Pestano, Joe Smith and Tony Sipp, with Pestano the favorite to take over closing duties should Perez get traded.
There was talk, in fact, that Pestano could've taken over as closer in 2012 in the wake of Perez's shaky 2011 campaign. While Perez posted a 3.32 ERA, his advanced metrics (4.65 SIERA, 5.01 xFIP) weren't kind and he had a career-low 5.9 K/9, good for just a 1.5 K/BB ratio. Perez has bounced back nicely this season (3.51 ERA, 2.55 SIERA, 3.18 xFIP, a 10.4 K/9 and a career-low 2.0 BB/9) and the righty now has a career 3.20 ERA and 266 strikeouts in 270 innings over five seasons.
At age 27, Perez is in his prime and arguably has more upside than any of the free agent closing options on the market this winter. He will be arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter after agreeing on a $4.5MM contract for 2012, so you can guess Perez is looking at a raise to around $6MM in 2013. The escalating cost might've made Perez a trade candidate anyway for the cost-conscious Indians though other teams around baseball may also hesitate to take Perez given that he's on pace to earn even more in 2014 after his final arb year. Still, $6MM for a proven closer is not a bad price to pay.
Here are a few teams who may be looking for a new closer this offseason....
- Mets. Frank Francisco is set to earn $6.5MM next season and the Mets may not have much payroll space to work with this winter. Still, the Mets are known to be looking for bullpen help and could be looking for a longer-term option than Francisco, who has pitched better (3.55 SIERA, 10.07 K/9) than his 5.49 ERA would indicate.
- Dodgers. A very borderline candidate, as L.A. would only be looking for closing help if Kenley Jensen's heart problems proved to be career-threatening.
- Astros. Wilton Lopez was recently named closer and the rebuilding Astros will likely look for young arms and low-cost veterans in their bullpen rather than pursue a bigger name this offseason.
- Red Sox. It's probably unlikely that the Sox would pursue another closer but Perez would provide depth given Andrew Bailey's injury history.
- Tigers. Jose Valverde is a free agent this winter and the Tigers could look for a younger upgrade to finish games. It's doubtful the Indians would deal Perez to a divisional rival, especially in this case since Perez singled out the Tigers for praise as a team who spends despite their medium market size.
- Yankees. If Rafael Soriano leaves for free agency, the Yankees could want a proven closer on hand should Mariano Rivera have a setback in his recovery from a torn ACL.
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.
Masterson, the Tribe's opening day starter, earns $3.825MM in 2012 after avoiding arbitration this past offseason. Masterson is controlled through the 2014 season and has pitched to a 4.47 ERA with a 6.9 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 and a 56.4 percent ground-ball rate that is tied for sixth-best in the Majors. Masterson's control has taken a significant downturn this season, as evidenced by the rising walk rate (2.7 BB/9 in 2011) and his AL-worst 11 wild pitches.
Knobler reports that both the Reds and Rangers had scouts present to watch Masterson's start against the Twins in Minneapolis yesterday, though he wasn't particularly impressive. He allowed eight earned runs to the Twins over 5 2/3 innings on seven hits, two walks a and a hit batter.
The Indians are also open to trading Shin-Soo Choo for the right price, and both the Pirates and Reds appear to be interested at the moment. There have been rumors over the past few weeks that they could deal Chris Perez as well, but Knobler calls it "doubtful" that Perez will be traded.
The market for Zack Greinke appears to consist of the Rangers, Angels, White Sox and Braves, ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark reports. Rival teams say the Red Sox, Blue Jays and Dodgers aren’t involved on Greinke, and the Indians and Orioles have limited interest in pitchers headed for free agency, Stark writes. Here are more notes from Stark:
- The Yankees are exploring their third base options with Alex Rodriguez out, Stark reports. Marco Scutaro could be an option for New York.
- There’s an expectation that Chase Headley will be traded, but the Padres continue saying they’re happy to keep him, Stark writes. One team says the Padres are looking for a Mat Latos-like return if they trade the third baseman.
- The Phillies are looking for a proven, young setup reliever and a young outfielder or third baseman for Victorino, Stark reports. They’ve asked about relievers Brad Lincoln, Wade Davis and Logan Ondrusek in trade talks.
- It’s already been a busy month for the Astros, but they’re still willing to consider trades for anyone but Jose Altuve.
- The Indians and Cardinals have talked to the Rays about James Shields, Stark reports.
- The Angels are telling teams they’d rather trade Vernon Wells than keep him when he returns from the disabled list. They’re looking for a trade partner and saying they don’t want to eat all of his salary, Stark reports. It’ll be challenging to find a taker for Wells’ salary; he earns $21MM per season through 2014.
- The Indians aren’t likely to deal Chris Perez or Shin-Soo Choo, but they’ll listen on either player.
The Giants are interested in Indians closer Chris Perez, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports report. The Indians, 47-48 after losing four consecutive games, are not planning a massive overhaul in the next week, since they intend to contend in 2013. Yet the Indians constantly gauge trade interest in their roster and could move established players strategically before the end of the month.
If the Indians trade Major Leaguers such as Perez and Shin-Soo Choo, they’d look to obtain players who could strengthen their current team, Rosenthal and Morosi report. GM Chris Antonetti has been monitoring the trade market for a starting pitcher and a right-handed bat.
Perez, 27, has a 3.06 ERA with 10.4 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and 26 saves so far this year. The right-hander earns $4.5MM in 2012 and can expect a raise to $7MM or so after the season, when he's arbitration eligible for the third time. Perez, a super two player, will remain under team control through 2014.
Giants relievers have combined for a 3.41 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 so far this year. However, closer Brian Wilson will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery and Guillermo Mota is on the restricted list following a 100-game suspension.
Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia has tearing in his labrum and rotator cuff, reports Joe Strauss of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Surgery is not recommended at this time but he will be shut down for a minimum of four weeks. Garcia signed a four-year, $27MM extension last July.
Here's the latest from the NL Central, which just lost one of its best young pitchers...
- ESPN's Jayson Stark hears that the Pirates are expected to offer eighth overall pick and Stanford right-hander Mark Appel a slot $2.9MM signing bonus and hold the line until the July 13th deadline as they sign their other picks. "I don't see how," said one executive when asked if a deal will get done between the team and the Scott Boras client.
- Indians closer Chris Perez told Andrew Wagaman of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he was excited when the Cardinals traded him "because I could go do my thing." Cleveland acquired Perez from the Cards for Mark DeRosa in June 2009.
- We know the Cubs are willing to absorb most of the $54MM left on Alfonso Soriano's contract to trade him, and ESPN's Buster Olney wonders (on Twitter) if the outfielder's recent power surge will create some interest. Soriano hit two homers last night and has 11 in his last 23 games.
- Hoynes examines how the Indians have backed off their philosophy of extending young players in recent years and wonders if the pitfalls of the Travis Hafner and Jake Westbrook contracts have made them wary.
- Hoynes quotes one agent who thinks that at this point, the Indians think it'd be too expensive to offer Asdrubal Cabrera a multiyear extension.
- GM Chris Antonetti says there are no black and white rules in the organization for signing pre-arbitration players to extensions; each case is handled on an individual basis.
- In his piece, Bastian writes that Antonetti told reporters on Tuesday at the Winter Meetings that he was discussing a trade "that would be very surprising if it came to fruition."
- The Indians are looking to improve their offense, and teams have come calling about Chris Perez. The Tribe isn't actively shopping their closer, but Bastian says they're willing to listen because of the depth they have in their bullpen, though the number of available arms doesn't give them much leverage in any potential deal. Plus, with an eye on contending in 2012, depleting their bullpen depth may not be the best strategy.