Last week, the Braves signed utilityman Hernán Pérez to a minor league contract. He has been assigned to Triple-A Gwinnett, where he’s already made three appearances. Pérez had opened the 2022 season with the Toros de Tijuana of the Mexican League, but he was granted his release to pursue the opportunity with Atlanta after three games.
Pérez, 31, has seen action in the majors in each of the past ten seasons. He debuted with the Tigers but logged the majority of his playing time as a fairly regular utility player with the Brewers between 2015-19. Pérez’s best season came in 2016, when he swiped 34 bases and hit 13 home runs over 430 plate appearances. His production has steadily ticked down in the years since then, however, and he’s seen only sporadic MLB time with the Cubs and Nationals over the last two years. He spent most of last season with the Hanwha Eagles of the Korea Baseball Organization, hitting .273/.327/.418 in 58 games.
Even during his best days, Pérez made plenty of outs because of a very low walk rate, reflected in a .250/.280/.382 MLB slash line. For the bulk of his career, though, he’s shown solid bat-to-ball skills and plus baserunning ability. He’s also seen action at every position other than catcher, with the majority of his experience coming at third and second base. Public metrics haven’t liked Pérez’s work at shortstop or in center field, but he’s rated well in his time at second and at all four corner spots.
Atlanta’s starting infield of Matt Olson, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson and Austin Riley is well-established. Orlando Arcia, a teammate of Pérez’s for a few years in Milwaukee, is the top utility option. Pérez joins Phil Gosselin and Pat Valaika as experienced, non-roster utility options with the Stripers.