The Rangers have moved left-hander Martin Perez to the bullpen for the remainder of the season and have informed his camp that the team is not currently planning on picking up his $7.5MM club option for the 2019 season (Twitter links via Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News). MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan quotes Texas GM Jon Daniels on the matter (Twitter link):
“We told Martin that if the decision had to be made today, we probably wouldn’t exercise the option. It’s possible we could still work something out for him to continue his career here. We want to take this time to evaluate him in a bullpen role.”
It’s not hard to see why the Rangers are strongly leaning toward paying Perez a $750K buyout, as the lefty has been rocked for a 6.95 ERA in 68 2/3 innings this season. The 27-year-old also missed a significant portion of the season while recovering from surgery on his right (non-throwing) elbow that he underwent this past offseason.
Perez does have somewhat of a track record in Texas, having pitched to a 4.37 ERA over the life of 638 innings from 2013-17. But while Perez was a source of serviceable innings prior to the 2018 season while earning a relatively modest $16.8MM during his current contract, he’s also never lived up to the fanfare that led to him widely being considered a top 50 (and, at one point, top 20) prospect in the game.
Perez has made just six relief appearances in his career — all coming back when he was a rookie in 2012. It seems unlikely that a month of relief work, no matter how encouraging, would convince the Rangers to pay that fairly hefty sum. Perhaps, however, an encouraging performance could lead the two sides to hammer out a new contractual arrangement that would give Perez the chance to remain in the organization at a lower rate. If not, he’ll reach free agency for the first time this winter, albeit on the heels of the worst season of his seven-year career in the Majors.