The Red Sox and southpaw Martín Pérez have agreed to join forces for a second consecutive season, per the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (via Twitter). Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com confirms the deal, pending a physical. Pérez will earn a $4.5MM salary in 2021 with a $6MM option for 2022 that comes with a $500K buyout (Twitter links). He’ll also earn an extra $100K for every ten innings starting at 130 innings in 2021, with a max of $500K, adds Rosenthal. Pérez is represented by the OL Baseball Group.
Last year’s pact worked out well enough for both sides to essentially roll it back at a slightly lower price point. Boston declined its $6.25MM option this past November, instead paying a $500K buyout. After being guaranteed $6.5MM last year, Pérez signs for a $5MM guarantee this time around with the potential for an additional $6MM if Boston picks up their 2022 option.
Cotillo has said all winter that the Red Sox will need to add at least two arms for their rotation, so an agreement with Pérez doesn’t preclude a later deal for an arm like Garrett Richards, Matt Moore, or Jake Odorizzi. Still, Pérez fills a big hole as a safe bet to eat innings. He ably manned that post in 2020 for the Red Sox, averaging more than five innings per start over 12 starts. He had a 4.50 ERA/4.88 FIP with just a 17.6 percent strikeout rate, 10.7 percent walk rate, and 38.5 percent groundball rate.
While those numbers themselves won’t get the Red Sox back into contention, they represent an important level of consistency. A rebuilding club like Boston relies on rote veteran production at certain places on the roster in order to embolden the coaching staff and front office as they maneuver a grueling 162-game season. For example, they can resist the temptation to rush younger arms while Chris Sale works his way back from injury. In-game, they can be more conservative with Eduardo Rodriguez’s innings knowing that Pérez can help protect the bullpen from overuse.
Boston’s rotation, after all, is riddled with long-term injury concerns. As of right now, Pérez joins Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, Tanner Houck and Nick Pivetta in their starting five, though as we mentioned above, Boston’s working with a dynamic pool of rotation candidates at this time. Rule 5 pick Garrett Whitlock could be a candidate for starts, Sale should return at some point during the season, and they’ll take a look at younger arms like Connor Seabold and Bryan Mata during spring training.