Oliver Perez Rumors
It's been a rough week for Oliver Perez, and given his overall tenure with the Mets, that is no small feat. Thanks to his 9.00 spring ERA and inability to throw strikes or reach 90 miles per hour with his fastball, the Mets removed Perez from consideration for the starting rotation. Those difficulties are likely to lead to Perez's failure in the bullpen, too, and his eventual release.
If this is where it ends, Perez will almost certainly be viewed as a cautionary tale from an acquisition perspective. After all, the Mets signed Perez to a three-year, $36MM contract prior to the 2009 season, only to receive 112 1/3 innings of 6.81 ERA pitching. So it may surprise some to find out that both times teams traded for Oliver Perez, they came out ahead.
The San Diego Padres signed Oliver Perez as an amateur free agent back in 1999. By 2002, he made his big league debut as a 20-year-old, displaying both the now-faded ability to strike batters out in droves and his still-present tendency to walk more than his share of hitters. Nevertheless, he offered tantalizing ability, leading to the Padres' decision to trade Perez, a 24-year-old Jason Bay and minor leaguer Corey Stewart to Pittsburgh for a 32-year-old Brian Giles.
While Giles had a decent-but-costly run of strong offense and diminishing defense for the Padres, Perez and Bay quickly made the deal look like a steal for the Pirates. Perez posted a 2.98 ERA in 196 innings, while Bay posted a .907 OPS and won the NL Rookie of the Year.
Put it wins above replacement terms, Perez earned a WAR of 5.1 in 2004, well above Giles' 3.0 and Bay's 2.2. In fact, Perez's 2004 was a more valuable season than any that anyone in the trade would enjoy, other than Jason Bay's 2009.
But contrast the $8.8MM salary Giles earned in 2004 with the $321K Perez took home, and $305K from Bay, and the gap becomes enormous.
Perez did go on to struggle in 2005 and 2006, with Bay carrying the lion's share of the value for the Pirates in subsequent years. Still, when Pittsburgh decided to unload Perez in 2006, it was the receiving team, the New York Mets, who benefited.
On July 31, 2006, New York traded starting right fielder Xavier Nady to the Pirates for Perez and Roberto Hernandez, a relief pitcher tabbed to replace the injured Duaner Sanchez. And while Perez struggled over the remainder of the 2006 season, he posted a 1.4 WAR in 2007 and a 1.5 WAR in 2008. By contrast, Nady provided -0.9 WAR in 2007 for the Pirates, and 1.9 WAR in 2008. Roberto Hernandez even chipped in another 0.2 WAR for the Mets at the tail end of 2006 to even out Nady and Perez that season.
Naturally, there are Mets fans who blame the trade for the subsequent contract debacle, just as a divorced couple often turns on the person who introduced them. Perez, in an odd bit of symmetry, followed his 1.4 and 1.5 WAR seasons in 2007 and 2008 with a -1.4 mark in 2009 and -1.5 in 2010, as if to erase every bit of good he'd done the team.
Still, all that proves is that signing Oliver Perez to a massive free agent contract hasn't been a good idea. Trading for Perez, on the other hand, is a winning proposition. Let this be a lesson to the other 29 teams, who probably have a few weeks at most before the only way they can acquire Perez is for free.
The Phillies are concerned about Chase Utley's injured right knee but, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com they hadn't called the Rangers about Michael Young as of this morning. Here's the latest on the Phillies and notes from around the league:
- Phillies scout Charley Kerfeld had been watching the Rangers and may have been scouting Young.
- Chris Davis has an option left, so the Rangers are expected to send him down to start the season in the minors, despite his strong spring performance so far.
- 22-year-old Dodgers prospect Rubby De La Rosa is impressing with his upper-90s fastball and command.
- Though the Padres would like Bengie Molina to return to action at a bargain price, they're under the impression that the backstop is in "retirement mode." The Padres expressed interest in Molina earlier in the week, after Gregg Zaun retired, but they don't have much left in their budget.
- It remains unlikely that Oliver Perez or Luis Castillo will break camp with the Mets, even though the team doesn't have tremendous depth from the left side out of the bullpen or at second base.
Mets GM Omar Minaya signed Oliver Perez to a three-year, $36MM deal in February of 2009, and he's given the team 112 1/3 innings of 6.81 ball over two seasons. There's a good chance he'll be released this month, with the team eating $12MM. It could have been worse, too - Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that the Mets floated a four-year, $44MM deal, but Perez and Scott Boras wanted the chance to re-enter the free agent market after three years.
It's easy to trash the Perez signing now, but what were reporters and analysts saying at the time of the deal? Don't worry, I am not immune...
Tim Dierkes, MLB Trade Rumors
I think it was about right since he is so young and can be dominant. Maybe a slight overpay but that is OK for a team like the Mets to do.
Ben Shpigel, New York Times
Perez has agreed in principle to a three-year, $36 million contract to remain with the Mets in a deal that should benefit both parties. Without guaranteeing a fourth year or even including a vesting option, the Mets fortified their rotation Monday with a 27-year-old left-hander who is comfortable pitching in New York; who last season baffled their chief rival, the Philadelphia Phillies; and who has the potential to shine brighter than [Derek] Lowe.
Matthew Cerrone, MetsBlog
The thing i like most about this is that, even if Perez is a total bust, and regresses, the Mets can move this contract...had he ever signed for five years and $60 million, like he was initially looking for, he’d be a total albatross...but, if the Mets were to eat some of the money, there will always be a taker for a 28–year-old lefty earning, say, $16 million over two years.
Joel Sherman, New York Post
Now the Mets will hope the lack of focus or lack of maturity or whatever it is exactly that detours Perez from consistent excellence will melt away.
Buster Olney, ESPN
Personally, I like the signing for the Mets.
Jayson Stark of ESPN listed Perez under his three most outrageous contracts, writing:
The Mets win a bidding war with themselves to reel in Oliver Perez.
Jon Heyman, SI.com
The Mets had to get Oliver Perez back. They weren't comfortable with their main fallback option, which was [Randy] Wolf.
9:02am: Perez will not be released today, a source tells Martino (Twitter link). Instead, he'll get two bullpen appearances and will be released if they are not stellar.
8:03am: "The end is drawing closer" for Oliver Perez and the Mets, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Perez's Spring Training starts were "mere theater," writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Now, Mets GM Sandy Alderson, manager Terry Collins, and pitching coach Dan Warthen will meet today to decide between giving Perez a shot at relief or releasing him immediately, according to Martino.
Why are the Mets going through these motions with Perez? Some in the organization really want to see him audition for the bullpen, tweets Martino. Otherwise, Sherman has two theories. One is that the new administration must "put on a show" for ownership before cutting Perez. The other is that ownership is aiming to release Perez and Luis Castillo closer to the season, to "get the most positive bump" with fans before Opening Day.
Releasing Perez and Castillo will require the Mets to eat $18MM. Click here for my list of other candidates to be released this month.
One year ago today, the Mets signed Kiko Calero, who was coming off of a season in which he posted a 1.95 ERA with 10.4 K/9 for the Marlins. Calero never pitched for the Mets and the team released him in May. Here are today's New York notes...
- Jason Isringhausen will retire if he doesn't make the Mets' roster this spring, the veteran reliever tells Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- Carl Crawford didn't think the Yankees had much interest in him this winter, and Brian Cashman confirmed as much to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. Crawford "didn't mesh with what we had here and my need for starting pitching" and while Cashman is a Crawford fan, "I've got someone I'm excited about in Brett Gardner, who's $142MM less." (both Twitter links)
- With Chris Capuano and Chris Young in line to win rotation spots, it all but confirms that the Mets will release Oliver Perez, says ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin.
- Jesus Montero appears to have an excellent chance of winning the Yankees' backup catcher job, since Francisco Cervelli will miss at least four weeks with a broken foot. Yankees GM Brian Cashman says he has no interest in delaying Montero's arbitration clock by holding him back for the first few months of the season (Twitter link).
- Before the injury, Chad Jennings of the Journal News reports that the Yankees seem legitimately impressed by Montero's improvement behind the plate. It appeared early on that the Yankees would send Montero to the minors to play every day, but as ESPN.com's Buster Olney explains, Montero has become a better, more dedicated catcher and remains a force at the plate.
- Francisco Rodriguez told Newsday's David Lennon that he wants to do "double" this year in order to regain the confidence of Mets fans after a trying 2010 season. Rodriguez repeated that he isn't worried about the 2012 option that vests at $17.5MM if he finishes 55 games this season.
- Johnny Damon told Peter Botte of the New York Daily News that he was never close to returning to the Yankees, since he isn't ready to be a part-time player and the Yankees have a DH and three outfielders. In a few years, however, Damon says he'll be ready for a part-time role.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post
The latest on the Mets, including updates on two pitchers who haven't lived up to their contracts...
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says he finds it "increasingly difficult to believe that [Fred Wilpon] will remain viable as owner [of the Mets]." He believes Wilpon should sell the team and move on, for the good of all involved.
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News hears that the Mets are close to giving up on Oliver Perez and could release him if he doesn't pitch well against the Cardinals today. Manager Terry Collins says Perez will have another chance to prove himself after today, however. The left-hander earns $12MM this year in the final year of his contract.
- Agent Paul Kinzer told David Lennon of Newsday that Francisco Rodriguez's 2012 option, which becomes guaranteed if he finishes 55 games this year, will be a "point of interest" that he'll watch closely. Kinzer says he hopes the Mets play to win instead of worrying about the $17.5MM option.
- The owners of the Mets, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, face more than a $1 billion lawsuit, but that's not all. They are expected to face additional allegations from a court-appointed trustee, according to Matthew Futterman and Michael Rothfeld of the Wall St. Journal.
Mets owner Fred Wilpon told reporters in Florida that he and his family will be "vindicated" in the $1 billion lawsuit against them, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Here's the latest on the Mets, both on and off the field:
- Jeff Wilpon said yesterday that interest in buying a minority share in the Mets is high, according to Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger.
- When asked about selling the team outright, Fred repeated what Jeff said yesterday: "selling this team is not even being discussed." (Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reporting on Twitter).
- Word is that Oliver Perez will get more time to prove himself this spring than Luis Castillo, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). Both players are in danger of being released if they don't perform.
Here are some tidbits from the National League East..
- Today, Oliver Perez notified the Mets that he wants to make the club as a starting pitcher, writes David Waldstein of the New York Times. Perez met with manager, Terry Collins, and GM Sandy Alderson to inform them of his stance. However, it is far more likely that he will be a lefty out of the bullpen or be released before the season starts. Perez is owed $12MM in the final year of his three-year contract.
- Collins told Perez that he'll have an opportunity to make the Mets' rotation, writes Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal.
- After more than two months of talks, the Phillies and manager Charlie Manuel still have been unable to reach agreement on a contract extension. Tonight, Manuel's agent Pat Rooney told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that the two sides are not seeing eye-to-eye on dollars. “Charlie deserves to be paid as one of the top five managers in baseball,” the agent said. “I don’t want to negotiate through the media, but they know our position. Hopefully we’ll have something by Opening Day.”
- When addressing the media today, Cliff Lee insisted that he chose the Phillies over other clubs, such as the Yankees, because he felt that the Phillies gave him the best chance to win, writes Ken Davidoff of Newsday.
Here are a few Mets items of note, as the Wilpons' lawsuit drama continues to unfold ...
- The Mets plan to let Jose Reyes play out the entire 2011 season to see if he can stay healthy before deciding whether they should re-sign him, tweets Jon Heyman of SI.com. Reyes, 28 in June, is an All-Star caliber shortstop when healthy (career line of .286/.335/.434), but he played in just 36 games in 2009 and was limited to 133 games last season due to a variety of injuries. The Mets picked up Reyes' $11MM option for 2011 earlier this offseason.
- GM Sandy Alderson is maintaining that the Mets' baseball operations have not been hamstrung by the Wilpons' murky financial standing, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post, but the true test of that will be in the following months, when the team navigates the draft and the non-waiver trade deadline in July. Sherman wonders, will the Mets spend big on the 13th pick and in the international free-agent pool? If they're in contention, will they have the financial flexibility to add a pricey player? If they're out of contention, will they try to offload the big contracts of Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez?
- With the Mets mired in a cycle of bad publicity due to the Madoff scandal, Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez (particularly the latter) might be released in hopes of appeasing an angry fan base, writes Steve Popper of the Bergen Record. Alderson told Popper that new manager Terry Collins won't tolerate the "conduct that has existed in the past," and that the Mets and their players have a "responsibility to the fans."
In his Insider-only ESPN.com blog, Buster Olney writes that the Mets have internally discussed the possibility of simply releasing Luis Castillo. The team has repeatedly tried to free up some money by trading the second baseman, but has yet to find a taker. Olney indicates that it's possible the Mets could drop both Castillo and Oliver Perez before Opening Day. Here are this morning's other New York-related notes:
- The Mets were one of the teams pursuing Randy Choate before the southpaw signed with the Marlins, according to Newsday's Ken Davidoff. Davidoff says the Mets made Choate a one-year offer worth about $1.4MM, but the veteran lefty accepted more years and more guaranteed money from Florida. If the Mets still intend to add a Pedro Feliciano replacement, Davidoff continues, it'll probably be someone on a minor-league deal, since the market is thinning.
- Brian Cashman told Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News that he felt the asking price for Matt Garza was too high to seriously pursue a trade with the Rays. "We never got off the dime, but strong impressions were that it would be something that would cost us more because we are in the division, kind of like Roy Halladay," said the Yankees GM.
- Considering Andrew Friedman's comments about using the money saved in the Garza deal to sign other players, Chad Jennings of the Journal News wonders if the Rays' targets could overlap with the Yankees'.
- The Royals have told interested clubs that Joakim Soria will not be traded, a stance which Bill Madden of the New York Daily News finds puzzling. Madden suggests the Yankees were willing to part with Jesus Montero and Eduardo Nunez for Soria.
- In his blog entry linked above, Olney disagrees with Madden's argument that the Royals need to trade Soria. According to Olney, Soria's contract is so team-friendly it makes it nearly impossible for the Royals to get equal value from the Yankees or anyone else at the moment.