The Rays announced Monday that they’ve reinstated catcher Michael Perez from the 10-day injured list and optioned him to Triple-A Durham. Perez missed more than a month due to an oblique injury.
Not long ago, it looked as through Perez’s return could push Travis d’Arnaud out of the mix in Tampa Bay. The longtime Mets catcher had struggled considerably at the plate in his time with the Rays and was acquired only for cash considerations, so there’d have been little harm in cutting him loose based on his struggles. Since late May, however, d’Arnaud has come to life at the plate. He’s hit safely in six of his past seven starts, including four multi-hit efforts. He’s suddenly batting .259/.323/.481 with three homers as a member of the Rays, albeit in a small sample of 62 plate appearances.
With Mike Zunino back from the injured list and d’Arnaud riding a hot streak, there’s not much room on the big league roster for Perez at the moment. The 26-year-old has batted .274/.328/.389 in 126 plate appearances with the Rays since being acquired from the D-backs in the trade that sent Matt Andriese to Arizona last year, but he’ll have to wait for another opportunity at the MLB level. He still seems like a viable long-term piece for the Rays moving forward — particularly given that he can be controlled through 2024. Zunino is a free agent after the 2020 season, while d’Arnaud will be a free agent this offseason.