Oliver Perez Rumors
Here's a look at the latest news from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com..
- Mariners reliever Oliver Perez has drawn interest from the Orioles, Braves, and other clubs, according to Heyman. Perez has reinvented himself as a bullpen arm in the last two years with the Mariners, posting a 2.00 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 across 63 innings in Seattle. Competing execs note that Perez is more cost-efficient in terms of prospects and cash than a guy like Matt Thornton. The veteran would cost another team the prorated portion of his $1.5MM for the rest of the year.
- Kendrys Morales and Raul Ibanez could also bring a strong return to General Manager Jack Zduriencik & Co and the Rays are among the clubs that have inquired on their hitters. However, parting with them would cause them to go into a free fall and also adversely affect the top prospects on the big league roster. For his part, Jack Z isn't anxious to move anyone. "We'll see how this week goes. I'm not going to be the aggressor,'' the GM told Heyman earlier this week. "I'm not shopping anyone.''
- Seattle people have been wondering if the Yankees might call about Morales thanks to their rash of injuries. The Rangers could also come calling.
- A Mariners person said they've gotten calls on injured center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, but his injury history hurts his value. Closer Tom Wilhelmsen has drawn interest and the Red Sox have had interest in the past, but Zduriencik is said to be hesitant to trade him since he's under control for a few more years. Brendan Ryan, who is no longer the starting shortstop, could also be of interest to someone as a defensive specialist in the infield.
- Opinions are mixed, but one rival executive tells Heyman that Phil Hughes could fetch quite a bit in a trade. Another rival exec quipped that the Bombers might trade Joba Chamberlain for a pine-tar rag. We learned earlier today that the Yankees are aggressively pushing both pitchers.
Here are a few trade notes from around the American League:
- As we approach the trade deadline with the Mariners looking more like sellers than buyers, Larry Stone of the Seattle Times took a look back at GM Jack Zduriencik's recent history at the deadline. Beginning with an ill-fated swap of a young Michael Morse for Ryan Langerhans and featuring the retrospectively painful Doug Fister deal, the net return to Seattle has not been terribly productive.
- This year, the Mariners could be in a position to deal some relievers. Last night, we took a look at FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal's breakdown of potentially available NL relievers. Tonight, let's look at the AL crop. From the M's, Rosenthal says that veteran lefty Oliver Perez is the most likely to be dealt, with Charlie Furbush and Tom Wilhelmsen also prime candidates. The latter two, however, will likely command a high price given that Furbush may just be reaching arbitration after this season as a Super Two, while Wilhelmsen will not reach arbitration until after the 2014 campaign.
- Rosenthal also pegs the White Sox and Astros as sellers with attractive bullpen pieces. Chicago could swing a trade for stud reliever Jesse Crain if he can return in time to prove his health; otherwise, both Matt Thornton and Matt Lindstrom could hold some appeal. (Both of the latter two pitchers come with club options for 2014.) For Houston, meanwhile, the prime trade chip among its relief corps is unquestionably closer Jose Veras, who is cheap, strikes out a lot of hitters, and has been solid in late-inning work this year.
- One other team that should look to the future, according to FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi, is the Blue Jays. With the club again fading after its recent resurgence, Morosi says Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos faces a "virtually impossible" task to right the ship before the trade deadline. Rather than selling out for this season, says Morosi, the Jays should look to shore up the team's rotation to make a run in 2014 and 2015.
- Sticking with the Jays, Morosi says that Josh Johnson -- occasionally noted as a potential trade candidate earlier in the year -- has been "perhaps the team's greatest disappointment this year." Johnson currently carries a 4.89 ERA in 53 1/3 innings; his walk rate is below his career average at 3.4 BB/9, though he is striking batters out at a strong 9.1 K/9 clip. At this point, Morosi suggests, Toronto may be best served by shipping Johnson back to the National League rather than looking to try and bring him back next year.
9:26pm: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter) that Perez received $1.5MM with another $600K in performance bonuses.
9:04pm: The Mariners have re-signed Oliver Perez to a one-year contract, the team announced. Financial terms are unknown at this point. Perez is represented by Scott Boras.
“We are happy to have reached a mutual agreement with Oliver,” said GM Jack Zduriencik in a statement. "He did a very nice job in helping solidify our bullpen after his call up last summer. As a veteran left-hander, and one that had adjusted very nicely to his new role, we are looking forward to his contributions as we go into the 2013 campaign.”
Perez, 31, reinvented himself as a reliever with Seattle this year after not pitching in the big leagues since 2010. He posted a 2.12 ERA in 29 2/3 innings with 7.3 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 while actually faring much better against righties (.204/.279/.296) than lefties (.281/.328/.351). Perez regained some velocity in relief and average 93.7 mph with his fastball in 2012.
- The Angels are still working to trade Dan Haren and expect to move him by Friday, reports ESPN's Jim Bowden (Twitter links). Haren will bring a much bigger return that what they received for Santana, adds Bowden.
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto acknowledged that "in all likelihood we weren't going to exercise (Santana's) option ... We got piece we didn't have," reports Mike DiGiovanna of The Los Angeles Times (on Twitter).
- Re-signing Zack Greinke is a "huge priority" for the Angels, says Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. Part of the club's motivation to move Santana (and Haren) was to free up money for Greinke.
- The Angels are showing no inclination of making Torii Hunter a $13.3MM qualifying offer by this Friday's deadline, reports USA Today's Bob Nightengale (on Twitter). The Halos will not receive draft pick compensation if Hunter signs elsewhere in that case.
- Marco Scutaro told Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com that his first choice this offseason is to re-sign with the Giants (Twitter link). When asked what kind of contract he was seeking, the infielder joked "15 years, three thousand million dollars."
- "There's a market established," said Jeremy Affeldt to Baggarly in reference to Brandon League's new contract (Twitter link). The veteran southpaw said he will cherish his time with the Giants if he doesn't re-sign with them.
- Oliver Perez pitched to a 2.12 ERA in 29 2/3 relief innings for the Mariners this year, and he told MLB.com's Josh Liebeskind that he enjoyed his new role and would like to remain in the bullpen going forward. Perez will be a free agent this offseason.
- The Dodgers will hire Bob Engle as their Latin America scouting director, reports Bob Elliott of The Toronto Sun (on Twitter). Engle left the Mariners this month and had previously worked with the Blue Jays as well. He's responsible for signing Roy Halladay and Felix Hernandez as amateurs, among others.
Adam Moore's quest to make the Mariners' Major League roster hit a big roadblock after the catcher suffered a broken wrist during Tuesday's game against the Reds. Moore will likely miss the rest of Spring Training at the minimum and he's seeing a hand specialist today to determine the severity of the injury. Moore was battling for a spot as Seattle's backup catcher, which could have been available given that Jesus Montero is expected to see a lot of time at DH this season.
Here's some more news from the AL West...
- Athletics GM Billy Beane chatted with Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News about such topics as Yoenis Cespedes, the challenges of taking the A's through another rebuilding process and the team's desire to resolve their stadium situation and possibly relocate to San Jose.
- Torii Hunter would "take less money" to return to the Angels next season, reports Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. "They have so many young guys coming up, guys they want to give playing time to, so I know it could be difficult for me," Hunter said. "But if they're willing to keep me here, I would love to stay." Hunter's five-year, $90MM contract expires after this season and though the outfielder has said he wants to play for two or three more years, his top priority is to play for a contender, preferably the Halos.
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto sees the battle for playing time on his club's roster as a strength, he tells MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. "The next team that wins a world championship with 25 guys, they will be the first," Dipoto said. "It keeps players fresh, it puts them in good matchup situations, it gives you depth, interchangeable pieces....Do I believe there's enough at-bats for the players here? Absolutely."
- Oliver Perez's minor league deal with the Mariners will pay him $750K if he makes the 25-man roster, reports MLB.com's Greg Johns. Perez can earn another $250K in incentives tied to innings and games pitched.
- The Mariners' wealth of minor league talent makes them "the next Tampa Bay Rays," writes ESPN's Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required), though the Mariners' higher payroll gives them a leg up on the Rays. Bowden is very high on Seattle's young pitching corps, comparing them to not just the Rays' current staff, but also to Oakland's Tim Hudson/Mark Mulder/Barry Zito trio of the early 2000's and the great Braves rotations of the 1990's.
- The Athletics and Giants released competing press releases yesterday in regards to the ongoing dispute between the two clubs over the Athletics' attempt to move to San Jose. John Shea and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle recap the more pertinent passages from each release, as the two teams argue over which has territorial rights to Santa Clara County.
The Athletics signed Brian Fuentes to a two-year, $10.5MM contract on this date last year. The veteran left-hander posted a 3.70 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a 36.7% ground ball rate in 58 1/3 innings for the A's and is set to earn $5MM this coming season. Here are the latest links from the AL West...
- The Rangers want Prince Fielder to go along with Yu Darvish, but are wary of saying so publicly, Bob Nightengale of USA Today writes. Though they don’t want to offer an Albert Pujols-like $240MM deal, they’d like to sign Fielder, the top free agent remaining.
- The Angels are likely to add a late-inning reliever before Opening Day, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. Francisco Cordero and Brad Lidge are among the relievers who have been linked to the Angels this month.
- The Mariners, who signed Oliver Perez yesterday, view the lefty as a reliever, Morosi of FOX Sports tweets.
- Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times explains that before Darvish turned pro, the Angels were willing to offer a lucrative bonus to lure him to MLB. The Dodgers had been scouting Darvish since he was 15 and Tommy Lasorda was intrigued by the right-hander’s stuff.
- The A's are shopping first baseman Brandon Allen, Jerry Crasnick reported this morning.
The Mariners signed left-hander Oliver Perez to a minor league deal that includes an invitation to Spring Training, the team announced. The Boras Corporation represents the 30-year-old, who didn't pitch in the Major Leagues in 2011.
Perez struck out 239 batters with a 2.98 ERA as a 22-year-old in 2004. After he struggled with his command for two seasons, the Pirates traded him to the Mets for Xavier Nady. Perez posted a 3.91 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 in 371 innings from 2007-08 and the Mets signed him to a regrettable three-year, $36MM contract. They got just 112 1/3 innings of 6.81 ERA ball out of the investment before releasing Perez last March.
Perez pitched 75 2/3 solid innings for the Nationals' Double-A club in 2011. He finished the season with a 3.09 ERA, 6.9 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 15 starts.
- 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.
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...
- Angels: Gary Matthews Jr. ($11.4MM)
- Astros: Roy Oswalt ($7MM)
- Blue Jays: Vernon Wells ($5MM)
- Cubs: Carlos Silva ($7.25MM, plus $2MM in 2012)
- Diamondbacks: Chris Snyder ($3MM)
- Dodgers: Manny Ramirez ($8.33MM per year through 2013), Andruw Jones ($3.2MM per year through 2014), Juan Pierre ($3.5MM)
- Mariners: Carlos Silva ($5.5MM), Yuniesky Betancourt ($1MM), Josh Wilson ($179K)
- Mets: Oliver Perez ($4MM), Luis Castillo ($6MM), Gary Matthews Jr. ($1MM)
- Rockies: Manny Corpas ($3.55MM, $250K in 2012)
- Royals: Yuniesky Betancourt ($2MM)
- Twins: Brendan Harris ($500K)
- White Sox: Scott Linebrink ($3.5MM)
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.
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 Perez. The 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.
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.