Catcher Roberto Perez’s $7MM option for the 2022 season isn’t likely to be exercised by the Guardians, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes in his latest mailbag column. Set to turn 33 in December, Perez has long rated as one of the game’s premium defenders behind the dish and looked to have turned a corner at the plate in 2019, when he hit .239/.321/.452 with a career-high 24 home runs. However, he’s limped to a .155/.253/.277 slash with eight homers in 276 trips to the plate since. Perez has missed significant time over the past two seasons due to a pair of shoulder injuries and, earlier this year, a fractured ring finger. It’s certainly plausible that the shoulder and hand injuries contributed to his decline at the plate, but a budget-conscious Cleveland club doesn’t seem likely to bet $7MM on a rebound — particularly when the buyout is a relatively light $450K. Cleveland has a more affordable, similarly defensive-minded backstop already on the roster in arbitration-eligible Austin Hedges. He’s projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn a $3.8MM salary next season.
Some more notes on various contract options around the league…
- The Red Sox hold a $7MM club option on catcher Christian Vazquez, but the price to retain their backstop was nearly a bit steeper. MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo points out that Vazquez’s contract called for that option to rise to $8MM upon reaching 502 plate appearances, but he fell just four trips to the plate shy of that mark. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom spoke highly of Vazquez in his end-of-season press conference, telling reporters: “It’s a hard position to check all the boxes and you don’t take for granted when you have someone who has shown that he can do it.” The 31-year-old Vazquez hit .258/.308/.352 with plus defense behind the dish this season, and based on Bloom’s comments imply there’s a good chance he’ll be back in the fold next season as well.
- Andrew Chafin’s one-year, $2.75MM deal with the Cubs was structured to include a $2.25MM salary plus a $500K buyout on a $5.25MM mutual option. The contract, however, also allowed Chafin to pick up a $125K bonus for reaching 50, 55, 60 and 65 games in 2021. Chafin was heavily used both by the Cubs and then by the Athletics following a trade, and he ultimately reached all four of those milestones while wearing an A’s jersey. As such, he’s now sitting on a $5.75MM option for next season. Chafin will have first say of whether to exercise his half of the option and could very well decline in search of a multi-year deal, which would render it a moot point. (He’d get the $500K buyout even if he declines.) If not, the fact that the option is now $500K more expensive makes it even tougher for the cost-conscious A’s pick up their end in what could be an offseason filled with tough financial decisions. Oakland also holds a $4MM club option on fellow southpaw Jake Diekman, which is effectively a net $3.25MM decision for the A’s, given its $750K buyout.