The Red Sox are discussing a deal with free-agent catcher Roberto Perez, reports Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com (Twitter link). iTalkStudios tweeted yesterday that the Red Sox had some interest in Perez. Boston has already added Jorge Alfaro on a minor league deal this winter and also picked up Caleb Hamilton off waivers from the Twins in October (later passing him through outright waivers themselves), but the front office is still exploring other potential options behind the dish.
Perez, 34, spent eight seasons in Cleveland from 2014-21, establishing himself as one of the game’s premier defensive backstops along the way. He signed with the Pirates in free agency last offseason, but his 2022 campaign was limited to just 21 games. Perez tore his hamstring in early May and wound up requiring surgery that wiped out the rest of his season.
During his brief time with the Bucs, Perez tallied 69 plate appearances and turned in a .233/.333/.367 batting line. That was solid production for a catcher, but on the whole, Perez has typically been a well below-average offensive player. His 2015 season (.228/.348/.402) and 2019 season (.239/.321/.452, career-high 24 home runs) stand as exceptions, but those peaks are offset by several seasons of sub-.200 batting averages and sub-.300 on-base percentages. Overall, Perez is a .207/.298/.360 hitter in 1752 Major League plate appearances.
That lack of offense has been easier to live with, however, due to the strength of his glovework. Perez has won a pair of Gold Gloves in his career and, in 2019, was named the Wilson Overall Defensive Player of the Year in MLB. He’s piled up 79 Defensive Runs Saved in 4052 innings behind the plate, notched a massive 39% caught-stealing rate — including marks of 41% in 2019 and 71% in the shortened 2020 season — and posted elite pitch-framing marks according to each of FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus and Statcast. Since Statcast began tracking framing data in 2015, only four catchers — Yasmani Grandal, Buster Posey, Austin Hedges and Tyler Flowers — have been credited with more value for their framing efforts.
As things stand, the Red Sox figure to deploy Reese McGuire as their primary catcher in 2023. McGuire and Connor Wong are the only two catchers on Boston’s 40-man roster, although the aforementioned Alfaro, Hamilton and former top prospect Ronaldo Hernandez give the Sox some other non-roster options who’ll vie for playing time in spring training.