The Marlins are optioning right-hander Eury Pérez to the minor leagues, per Craig Mish of the Miami Herald. It might seem like a strange decision at first blush since the rookie has an excellent 2.36 ERA through his first 11 starts, but it was reported earlier that the club was going to manage the youngster’s innings this year.
Pérez came into this season regarded as one of the best pitching prospects in the league, despite a fairly limited track record. He was signed as an amateur in 2019, but then the pandemic wiped out the minor leagues in 2020. He made his professional debut in 2021, tossing 78 innings. Last year, he was on pace to eclipse that mark but suffered a lat strain in the summer and was limited to shorter stints upon his return, finishing the year with just 77 innings pitched.
He’s had excellent results everywhere he’s pitched but came into 2023 without having cracked 80 innings in a season. He continued his run of excellent at the start of this year, posting a 2.32 ERA over 31 Double-A innings. He got called up to the majors and has thrived with a 2.36 ERA in 53 1/3 innings, striking out 28.4% of opponents against a 7.9% walk rate. Between Double-A and the majors, he’s already at 84 1/3 innings this year, more than either of the previous two campaigns.
Mish provides some more context in a subsequent tweet, saying that the club had planned on making this move earlier in the year. However, injuries to Johnny Cueto, Edward Cabrera and Trevor Rogers, as well as the continued excellence of Perez, pushed them to keep rolling with him for a while longer. Now the All-Star break is imminent and Cueto is nearing a return, putting them in a better position to continue without him. By all accounts, the club is hoping to slow Pérez down, using the less-competitive environment of the minors to manage his workload so that he still has some bullets left for the postseason race or appearing in the playoffs themselves. Mish adds that the timeline of this plan hasn’t yet been definitively worked out.
Subtracting Pérez from the rotation leaves them with Sandy Alcantara, Jesús Luzardo, Braxton Garrett and Bryan Hoeing. Cueto will be rejoining the club after the All-Star break, per Mish, but his role has yet to be determined. He posted a 10.50 ERA over six rehab starts and perhaps the club is hesitant to install him back into a rotation job right away. Cabrera is also working his way back to health and will start a rehab assignment tomorrow, per Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald.
As for Pérez and his service time, he was called up May 10 and wasn’t going to be able to get to a full year here in 2023. He could have been granted the entire year by finishing in the top two of Rookie of the Year voting, but that was always going to be a challenge as long as these workload limits were part of the conversation. He would have been in a decent position to qualify for arbitration after 2025 as a Super Two player, though his odds of maintaining that trajectory will be dropped, depending on how the rest of the season plays out.