Oliver Perez Rumors

International Notes: Williams, Perez, Dessens, Urias

The Winter Leagues are the place to be for contract-hunting veterans and plenty of others with an MLB job in hand. Even Wilson Ramos still wants to play. Links are in Spanish…

  • Jerome Williams, who provided a late-season boost in six starts for the Angels, is continuing to make a strong case for his spot the 2012 rotation with a dominant winter in Venezuela. In six starts for the Magallanes Navegantes, Williams is 5-0 with a 1.00 ERA, reports Luis Gonzales at El Universal. After four offseasons without a Major League deal, Williams is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter at age 29.
  • Oliver Perez is technically a free agent, but the 30-year-old lefty told Fernando Ballesteros at Puro Beisbol, "I would say that I still belong to Washington, though anything could happen." Perez spent 2011 at the Nationals' Double-A affiliate in Harrisburg and will spend the winter pitching for the Culiacán Tomateros in the Mexican Pacific League. Fellow MLB free agents Vicente Padilla and Rodrigo Lopez also recently reported to the MPL looking for an offseason showcase, reports Ballesteros.
  • In the same piece, Ballesteros notes that 41-year-old reliever Elmer Dessens doesn't want to go undergo another surgery on his pitching arm, and that "it is only a question of time before he officially says goodbye to the diamond." Dessens was reported to have signed a minor league contract with the Giants last February, positioning him to become the first Mexican pitcher to play in the majors into his forties, but the deal fell through and he sat out the season.
  • Also in the piece, Ballesteros adds that the Pirates recently offered 200K to 15-year-old Mexican pitching prospect Julio Cesar Urias, but Urias’ parents rejected the offer. According to Ballesteros, the young lefty is currently being wooed by several MLB teams, the Diablos Rojos of the Mexican league, and the Gonzalez Sports Academy, which is co-owned by Adrian Gonzalez and his brothers Edgar and David.

Dead Money: Paying Players To Play Elsewhere

Eating money in trades or by releasing players is far from an ideal business practice, but sometimes it's a necessary evil. The Mets believe they are better off paying Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo a combined $18MM not to be on their team this year, and released the two just last month. David Wharton of The Los Angeles Times wrote about the concept of "dead money" today, speaking to Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, sports economist J.C. Bradbury, and Scott Boras.

With some help from Cot's Baseball Contracts, let's look at the teams that are paying players to be anywhere but on their roster this season…

This doesn't include money the Braves owe Kenshin Kawakami ($7.4MM) or the Yankees owe Kei Igawa ($4MM). Both Japanese imports remain in the organization, but they've since been banished to the minor leagues. It also doesn't include all the money the Mets famously owe Bobby Bonilla for the next two decades.

Yuniesky Betancourt is the only player collecting paychecks from three different big league teams at the moment, but Carlos Silva could join him if he's called up by the Yankees. Gary Matthews Jr. could also be in that mix if he catches on somewhere this summer.

Scott Kazmir & A Comparable Pitcher

It might be impossible to find two pitchers who have caused Mets fans more grief over the course of the past five years than Scott Kazmir and Oliver PerezThe similarities don't end there; the strikeout-inducing left-handers both turned in tremendous seasons by the age of 22 only to falter soon afterwards and saddle their teams with albatross contracts.

Scott Kazmir

They are so statistically similar that Baseball-Reference lists Perez as one of the most comparable pitchers to Kazmir and vice versa. Both induce strikeouts and allow walks at an unusually high rate and each has led the league in walks and either Ks or K/9 at one point.

Despite the walks, both pitchers were tremendous just four years ago. Perez posted a 3.56 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 2007, his age-25 season. Kazmir, who was just 23 that year, posted a 3.48 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9.

It's not easy to find young left-handers with numbers like that, so the Rays, who acquired Kazmir from the Mets for Victor Zambrano in a one-sided 2004 trade, signed the lefty to a three-year, $28.5MM extension early in the 2008 campaign. After the season ended, the Mets signed Perez to a three-year free agent deal worth $36MM. 

The contracts have soured and the Rays and Mets have since severed ties with the pitchers, who will collect their respective $12MM paychecks elsewhere this year. Perez will start the season in the Nationals' minor league system, far from Anaheim, where Kazmir remains a member of the Angels rotation despite an unimpressive spring.

Kazmir has said he's confident in his stuff and it would be compelling to see the left-hander capitalize on the opportunity to start and return to form. It wasn't that long ago that he posted a 1.73 ERA in his six-start debut with the Angels and he appears healthy, so some hope may remain for Angels fans.

But the Mets opened the season with Perez in their rotation last year and just 12 months later he's pitching for his career in the minor leagues. For Kazmir to avoid an unceremonious release of his own, he'll have to pitch better when the season begins and end the parallels between him and Perez.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.

Nationals Sign Oliver Perez

The Nationals signed Oliver Perez to a minor league deal and assigned him to minor league camp, the team announced (on Twitter). This marks the second time this week that an NL East rival has picked up a discarded Mets veteran; the Phillies signed Luis Castillo Monday.

The Nationals will be responsible for the Major League minimum salary if Perez makes the team and the Mets will assume the rest of his $12MM salary. Southpaws Sean Burnett and Doug Slaten figure to pitch at the major league level, while Perez works in the minors. Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports (on Twitter) that Perez will begin the season at Triple-A.

The Nationals signed Perez on the recommendation of Spin Williams, a pitching coordinator who knows Perez, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (on Twitter). Perez will report to minor league camp and work with Williams, according to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com (on Twitter).

As MLBTR's Agency Database shows, the Nationals already have eight Scott Boras clients: Rick AnkielAlex CoraDanny EspinosaAlberto GonzalezBryce HarperIvan RodriguezStephen Strasburg and Jayson Werth. Boras appears to have a strong working relationship with Nationals GM Mike Rizzo.

Yahoo's Tim Brown first reported the deal.

Alderson On Perez, Castillo, Beato, Emaus, Reyes

Mets GM Sandy Alderson held a blogger conference call today, and Metsblog.com's Michael Baron has the transcript.  Here are some of the hot stove-related notes…

  • Fan sentiment "came into play" in Luis Castillo's release, Alderson said.  The Mets "became aware about the sentiment in New York for [Castillo and Oliver Perez]….It's difficult to overcome that, so you evaluate player performance against presumption in the minds of the fans."  In Perez's case, Alderson said the southpaw just didn't pitch well enough to make the roster, so the fans' thoughts were moot.
  • Alderson says if the Mets are in contention, the club will have the money available to add a player if necessary.
  • Alderson thinks his team's farm system is underrated but he says the Mets "need to be more aggressive and successful in developing players out of the draft."
  • "There is a very good possibility we will keep both our Rule 5 picks" Alderson said, in regards to Pedro Beato and Brad Emaus.  The GM said that Emaus' Rule 5 status was a major reason the team gave him every chance to win the second base job this spring.  "If he was not a Rule 5 draftee, he wouldn’t have presented the immediacy that he does," Alderson said.  "If he’s not the starting second baseman, I’m not sure how much he helps us in a bench role. At least at the outset, you’re going to give him every opportunity."
  • If the Mets have a reduced payroll next season, they should still be able to re-sign Jose Reyes if they wish, given the number of contracts the team has coming off the books this winter.

Nationals In Talks With Oliver Perez

The Nationals are in talks with free agent left-hander Oliver Perez, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (Twitter links). The Mets released Perez earlier in the week, so interested teams would only be responsible for paying the MLB minimum salary if they sign the 29-year-old. If the sides agree to terms, it will be a minor league deal, according to Heyman. 

D’Backs Not Interested In Oliver Perez

Though the Diamondbacks were eyeing left-handed relief help earlier in the month, they are not interested in Oliver Perez, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (on Twitter). The Mets released the 29-year-old left-hander yesterday and reports have since established that the Yankees and Brewers are not interested in Perez, either.

Perez, now a free agent, is set to earn $12MM in 2011, the final year of his three-year, $36MM contract. If an MLB team signs him, they'll contribute about $400K of his salary and the Mets will pay the remaining $11.6MM.

As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes explained earlier today, Barry Enright and either Armando Galarraga or Aaron Heilman figure to fill out the back of Arizona's rotation. Rule 5 pick Joe Paterson could make the team and Mike Hampton and Jordan Norberto provide additional depth from the left side. 

The Padres signed Perez as an amateur free agent in 1999 when current D'Backs GM Kevin Towers was San Diego's GM.

Heyman On Bautista, Wakefield, Dominguez, Perez

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos told Jon Heyman of SI.com that he thought carefully before locking up Jose Bautista to a $65MM extension. "When you spend that kind of money, I don't think you can ever be completely comfortable," Anthopoulos said. "And I am one to agonize over everything, anyway,'' Both Anthopoulos and Bautista acknowledged that a second 54-homer season is unlikely, but that doesn't mean the former utility player can't produce. Here are the rest of Heyman's rumors…

  • Boston's front office has not seriously considered cutting Tim Wakefield.
  • Dennys Reyes, who can opt out of his contract Friday, will likely make the team as well, according to Heyman.
  • Two scouts say Marlins third baseman Matt Dominguez isn't ready to hit in the major leagues. However, he's an above-average defender.
  • Though manager Joe Girardi won't say as much, Ivan Nova has locked up the Yankees' No. 4 starter job, according to Heyman.
  • It appears that Oliver Perez will find a job. The Yankees and Brewers aren't interested.
  • Scouts tell Heyman that Twins pitching prospect Kyle Gibson isn't far from the majors.

Yankees Have No Interest In Oliver Perez

Turns out the rumor was too good to be true. Yankees GM Brian Cashman says he has no interest in left-hander Oliver Perez, according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch (on Twitter). The Yankees considered the former Met, according to SI.com, before concluding that they would be better off without him. "It's not something that makes sense for us," Cashman said.

The Mets released Perez yesterday, making him a free agent. If an MLB team signs Perez, they'll contribute about $400K of his salary, with the Mets responsible for the remaining $11.6MM.

Pedro Feliciano and Boone Logan give the Yankees two serviceable left-handers out of the bullpen, so they never seemed like a likely destination for the 29-year-old. The Brewers aren't interested in Perez, either.

Brewers Considering External Rotation Candidates

Though the Brewers will likely call on one of their current pitchers to fill out their rotation, the team is monitoring arms that could become available on waivers or through trades, according to MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. GM Doug Melvin says he will “probably” fill the rotation from within.

"It's very difficult to make trades at this time of year because other teams are trying to preserve their depth,” Melvin said. “We're making a lot of calls."

Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, Melvin's two primary offseason acquisitions have had setbacks this spring. Greinke will miss at least one start with a cracked rib and Marcum has a stiff shoulder. The Brewers appeared to have depth early in the spring, but Mark Rogers (shoulder) and Manny Parra (back) have dealt with injuries as well.

The Brewers are not interested in Doug Davis, Oliver Perez or Kevin Millwood, according to McCalvy. Milwaukee has a full 40-man roster, which means they would have to remove a player from the roster to create space for a new addition. Internal rotation candidates Wily Peralta, Marco Estrada, Eulogio de la Cruz and Tim Dillard are among those on the roster.