Catcher Roberto Pérez is going to be on the Giants’ Opening Day roster, the backstop tells Evan Webeck of the San Jose Mercury News. Pérez was in camp on a minor league deal and isn’t yet on the 40-man roster, so the club will need to make a corresponding move. He was one of several free agents with the ability to trigger an opt-out this weekend if he didn’t have a roster spot, though he won’t have to worry about that now.
Pérez, 34, has long been considered one of the better defenders behind the plate in the league. Going back to his 2014 debut, he’s posted 79 Defensive Runs Saved in his career. That’s the highest such tally among all MLB catchers in that timeframe. FanGraphs also considers his framing to be among the top 10 of all backstops in that same span.
His bat hasn’t been quite as strong, as he’s occasionally been decent there but not consistently. For his career, he has a .207/.298/.360 batting line for a wRC+ of 77. That’s not a disastrous line but it’s come in up-and-down fashion, as four of his seasons have finished with a wRC+ of 90 or higher while four of them have been 56 or lower. Last year, he was with the Pirates and hit .233/.333/.367 for a wRC+ of 102, though he only got into 21 games before he suffered a hamstring injury that was significant enough to require season-ending surgery.
Now back to health, the news that he’s made the team doesn’t come as a shock, as it was reported just yesterday that things seemed to be trending in that direction. He’ll join Joey Bart and Rule 5 pick Blake Sabol as catchers on the Giants, though Sabol might spend more time in the outfield for the time being. With outfielders Luis González, Austin Slater and Mitch Haniger all seemingly starting the season on the injured list, Sabol’s versatility figures to move him to the grass for a while.
Though Bart, 26, was a highly touted prospect, he hasn’t yet established himself at the big leagues. Last year, he hit 11 home runs but also struck out in 38.5% of his trips to the plate. He finished the year with a .215/.296/.364 batting line and wRC+ of 90. His glovework could also use some work, as he was given a -6 grade from DRS last year and poor marks for his framing as well. Perhaps having a veteran like Pérez around could have a positive influence on his defense, though he’ll also need to cut down on the punchouts.
Once this transaction is made official, the club will need to make room on the roster for Pérez. That shouldn’t be difficult, as González could easily be transferred to the 60-day IL since he’s set to miss the first half of the season. The club seems to be trending towards adding outfielder Bryce Johnson as well, which will require another spot. Thomas Szapucki and Luke Jackson are also candidates for a move to the 60-day IL, though their respective timelines are a bit less certain at the moment.