The Reds have acquired left-hander Cionel Perez in a trade with the Astros, as officially announced on the Reds’ Twitter feed. Houston will pick up minor league catcher Luke Berryhill in their end of the swap.
The move opens up a 40-man roster spot for the Astros, so the Michael Brantley signing could be officially announced at any moment. For the second time in two days, the Reds picked up a reliever from a team looking to clear a 40-man spot, after Cincinnati acquired Hector Perez from the Blue Jays so Toronto could accommodate George Springer (whose deal is now official) on the roster.
Perez, 24, has pitched in each of the last three seasons, amassing a 5.74 ERA, 23.1K% and 10.3K-BB% over 26 2/3 career innings as a big leaguer. Armed with a mid-90s fastball, Perez misses his fair share of bats but control has been an issue — particularly in 2020, when he issued six walks in just 6 1/3 innings of work. He was a fairly high-profile international signing out of Cuba back in December 2016, but didn’t get much of a consistent look in Houston, as the Astros frequently shuttled Perez back and forth between their active roster and Triple-A (or to the alternate training site, in 2020).
While a small sample size, Perez has been significantly better against left-handed batters (.630 OPS in 39 PA) over his MLB career than against righty swingers (.825 OPS in 78 PA). The three-batter rule will prevent the Reds from utilizing him as a true lefty specialist, but he does provide some southpaw depth for a Cincinnati team that is heavy in right-handed pitching. Amir Garrett is the only other left-handed reliever on the Reds’ 40-man roster, so opportunity exists for Perez to win a job in Spring Training.
The Reds selected Berryhill in the 13th round of the 2019 draft. A product of the University of South Carolina, Berryhill’s professional career thus far consists of only 32 Rookie League plate appearances in 2019, as the minor league shutdown last season kept Berryhill off the field.