The D-backs have selected the contract of veteran left-handed reliever Oliver Perez and, in a corresponding roster move, designated fellow southpaw Caleb Baragar for assignment, according to the team’s transactions page.
Perez, 40, joined the D-backs on a minor league deal on March 21 and has logged 3 1/3 scoreless innings with just one hit allowed thus far during Cactus League play. This will mark his second stint with the D-backs, for whom he also pitched in 2014-15.
Perez has spent the past four seasons in Cleveland, pitching to a combined 2.57 ERA with a 28.5% strikeout rate against a 6.8% walk rate over the life of 94 2/3 innings. Only 3 2/3 of those innings came in 2021, however. Perez was cut loose early in the year, and he spent the rest of the season pitching with los Toros de Tijuana in the Mexican League. He’d been slated to return to los Toros in 2022, signing there during the lockout and announcing his intention to retire after the season. However, once it became clear that the season could get underway only about a week later than originally scheduled, Perez reversed course and signed on with a Major League organization.
It still seems as though this could be the final year of a lengthy and largely successful Major League career for Perez, who had a roller-coaster run as a starting pitcher early in his career but reinvented himself as a reliever in his 30s. Since moving to the ’pen on a full-time basis in 2012, Perez carries a 3.45 ERA in 350 innings spread across five different organizations.
Turning to the 27-year-old Baragar, this marks his second DFA of the spring. A ninth-round pick of the Giants back in 2016, he’s seen Major League time with San Francisco in each of the past two seasons, pitching to a combined 2.78 ERA with an 18.8% strikeout rate, a 9.1% walk rate and a 21.7% ground-ball rate.
Despite that strong bottom-line run prevention, Baragar has now been designated for assignment both by the Giants and by the D-backs, who claimed him off waivers last month. Fielding-independent marks don’t paint as rosy a picture as Baragar’s more rudimentary ERA, due largely to his pedestrian K-BB% and an extremely low home-run rate — the latter of which doesn’t mesh particularly well with his sky-high 58.1% fly-ball rate.
Over the past two seasons, nearly 14% of the fly-balls put in play by Major League hitters have gone for home runs, whereas Baragar has seen just 5.3% of his flies clear the fence. Playing his home games at the spacious Oracle Park and inducing pop-ups at an above-average rate have both surely helped him, but it nevertheless seems inevitable that he’s in for some regression with regard to that minuscule homer-to-flyball ratio.
Baragar, who’ll turn 28 this weekend, has multiple minor league options remaining, so he could be looked at by another club as a possible depth option in the bullpen. He’s been tagged for an 8.01 ERA and surrendered nine home runs through 30 1/3 innings in a hitter-friendly Triple-A setting, but he carries a 4.06 ERA and respectable strikeout and walk percentages in 421 minor league innings on the whole. The D-backs will have a week to trade him or attempt to pass him through waivers.