December 16, 2019

Martin Perez Joins The Rotation

The Red Sox signed lefty Martin Perez last week to a $6 million deal for 2020 and a team option for 2021. It's been a slow winter and it's hard to muster much, if any, excitement over this news.

Chad Jennings writes that the Red Sox liked some of the changes Perez, who will be 29 in April, made last season.
[H]e saw his fastball velocity spike from 92-93 mph to 94-96 mph. He added the cutter, and his strikeouts also went up. His hard-hit rate and average exit velocity were among the best in the game according to Statcast. ... The Red Sox also felt that Perez represented good value at the back of the rotation ...
$6 million seems like a bit much for a guy with Perez's middling (at best) track record. After a decent rookie season in 2013, he has posted ERA+s of 91, 95, 104, 100, 76, and 90.

Last year with the Twins, Perez had an ERA of 2.89 on May 18, but slumped to 6.17 over his last 22 starts. He pitched more than five innings only nine times in those 22 starts.

One commenter at The Athletic was extremely optimistic:
We could use him as an opener against teams that are lefty oriented at the top of their order. We could use him in long relief or even middle relief. He could even be a guy we throw for 3 batters if our opponent has stacked lefties against us. In other words, he's an interchangeable part in a new Red Sox pitching machine. ... It's always nice to have innings eaters at the top of the rotation like Price used to be but creating inexpensive depth is very valuable too.
Most SoSHers don't think the glass is as half-full as that, but a fair amount are willing to trust Chaim Bloom:
I assume (though obviously without any evidence) that Bloom and the people he listens to saw something (maybe even just that elite weak contact %) and think there's a way to unlock a better version of him. There are a couple of indicators that suggest he's been better than he looked. Take a look at the Astros---they have a track record of taking pitchers and tweaking them to vastly improve them (to be fair, the Astros have generally had better raw material to work with than Perez). But still, targeting underperforming pitchers with the hope of "fixing" them is how teams get bargains. While its entirely possible that Bloom and co. are wrong, I don't think that they said "yep, that 76 ERA+, that's what this teams needs for 6 mil"
Perez will fill the fifth starter spot left vacant by Rick Porcello. If the Red Sox can get some consistency out of Perez next season, that option for 2021 might end up being somewhat of a bargain. I really like and respect Bloom, so I will keep an open mind.

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