The Los Angeles Dodgers have reached an agreement with free agent pitcher Chris Perez, reports Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Perez, 28, was released by the Cleveland Indians in October. He was scheduled to earn up to $9 million in arbitration.
The righthanded hurler had served as the Indians closer for most of the past four seasons, saving a total of 123 games. he looked to be off to a strong season as he saved 17 of his first 19 chances with a 2.52 ERA.
However, things unraveled for Perez in August. He ended the season by surrendering 16 runs over his final 18 1/3 innings with the Indians. Overall, he served up 11 home runs in 54 innings for the Tribe, with a bloated 5.08 FIP.
In addition to his on-field struggles, he pled guilty to drug charges after he and his wife had a package of marijuana shipped to their house. The combination of his poor performance and legal troubles resulted in Perez wearing out his welcome in Cleveland. After releasing him, they signed John Axford to fill his spot.
Much of Perez’ success has been built on holding opposing hitters to a .256 in-play batting average. When that mark jumped to .294 in 2013, his ERA took a corresponding hike. That type of success tends to be unsustainable over a long period, and his strikeout and walk rates of 22.9 percent, and 9.9 percent are less than stellar for a reliever.
On one hand, it’s a good bet that he won’t post a 20 percent HR/FB ratio for a second consecutive year. On the other, his fastball has dropped off more than two miles per hour since 2010, and the Steamer and Oliver projection systems see a mediocre reliever going forward.
With a bullpen that already features dominant closer Kenley Jansen along with the resurgent Brian Wilson along with J.P. Howell and Chris Withrow, Perez might not be pitching too many high-leverage innings.