We are officially in CRUNCH TIME – under 72 hours until the start of Free Agency at 12:01 AM November 5. We at Phillies Nation will take a look at a player who will be able to sign with any team at that time. We will explore potential performance, fit, cost, and feasibility. We continue today with right-handed reliever Chris Perez. And a reminder: you can check out all the “Pass or Play” posts by clicking on the category hyperlink.
Chris Perez emerged out of practically nowhere in 2010 for the Cleveland Indians, transforming from average young reliever to lights out closer, posting 1.72 ER and a 1.079 WHIP. Since then, Perez has made two All-Star games. But a look at his stats tell a different picture: a steadily climbing ERA, a WHIP that has climbed a half base runner from 2010 to 2013, and skyrocketing HR/FB has left Perez out in the cold, being cut by Cleveland yesterday. Perez had made $7.3 million as an arbitration-eligible player in 2013 and was projected to make around $9 million in 2014.
Perez’s career splits are pretty even, however, much of his decline in performance in 2013 came from an inability to get lefties out at the rate he was used to doing, including allowing a lot of extra base hits. His splits (.286/.352/.564 v. lefties against .222/.327/.348 v. righties) show a young pitcher with a platoon advantage.
As mentioned yesterday when talking about Joe Nathan and Jose Veras, the Phillies’ bullpen was ranked 14th out of 15th in ERA, FIP, and xFIP in the National League last season and there are not a ton of promising bullpen arms that the Phillies haven’t yet seen in the Majors. Unlike both Nathan and Veras, Perez is a bit of a question mark: is he a league-average reliever or a below-league average reliever? Despite being a two-time All-Star, the 28-year old still hasn’t defined that for good, yet.
Steamer projections have Perez worth 0.0 fWAR in 2014 so it is tough to put a number on him. If I had to guess, based on similar players with similar pedigrees, Perez could end up with a $4-5 million one year deal.
Perez looks like the classic Ruben Amaro trap: like Delmon Young, he still has relative youth and he has somewhat of a track record. Like Young, he will appear to most casual observers as somewhat of a no-risk, high-reward pick up. While I do not believe in Perez is as bad as he was last year, I do not think he is as good as he was in 2010, either. To pay someone $4 million to essentially be Justin De Fratus would be kind of weird, but it could happen.
I would pass on Perez. Perez has slowly regressed in most categories and is once again a league-average or worse reliever like he was when he broke into MLB with the Cardinals in 2008. This certainly has “Amaro Trap” written all over it, though.