At any given point during a Red Sox game this season, if you happen to peruse Red Sox Twitter you are likely to see a handful of comments along the lines of, “DFA Player X.” It’s understandable! The Red Sox, you see, are a very bad team — one of the very worst in baseball, in fact — and when you are a very bad team you surely have some very bad players who the fans would prefer not to see anymore. It’s the nature of the beast. Unfortunately for Red Sox fans, most of the players who people are asking to be DFA’d are pitchers, and this team doesn’t exactly have a bevy of capable arms waiting in the wings. If they did, they’d be up!
That said, this team hasn’t been this bad strictly because of pitching woes. There have been some poor performers at the plate as well, and there the Red Sox actually do have some other options that, while perhaps not definitively good, more worthwhile in getting playing time. Before recording this morning’s podcast, Jake mentioned to me that the Red Sox should just designate José Peraza for assignment now. I wasn’t quite sure when he first mentioned it, but I’ve been thinking about it since and the more I do, the more I agree. It’s time.
Peraza was, of course, brought in this winter with some mild excitement that he could repeat one of his good seasons in the big leagues. To be fair, in his four years prior to this season (one of which was a half-season), two of them were very solid. He was an average regular in those seasons, which is nothing to sneeze at. In the other two years, though, he was below replacement level. That is what he has been this season, hitting .232/.283/.323 for a 61 wRC+.
The obvious retort to this is that it’s been just over a month of baseball. While the season is halfway over, sample sizes don’t change and this is the equivalent of early-May in a regular season. We don’t usually judge players based on that kind of sample. However, beyond the fact that this season is effectively over for the Red Sox, and we’ll get to that in a second, this is essentially the same season Peraza had in 2019 when he finished with a 62 wRC+. Now, he has been hitting the ball harder this year so maybe there’s some bounce-back coming, but he’s also hit the ball softly more often and is pulling the ball way more. Peraza does not have the raw power to become pull-happy, and can only really succeed if he’s spraying the ball around the field. All of that is just to say that the batted ball data beyond hard-hit rate doesn’t really suggest a quick turnaround.
I suppose the argument for keeping Peraza on the lineup would center around the possibility that he does indeed turn it on down the stretch. As I just said, I super don’t see that happening to any significant extent — maybe he can put up something like an 85 wRC+ down the stretch, which is a major improvement and still not very good. But, even if he did, unless he went supernova, what would that really mean? Would that make him an attractive trade candidate for other teams around baseball? I can’t imagine he’d be anything beyond a throw in, and even that is questionable.
I also can’t really see a way that the Red Sox would want to keep him. Peraza is arbitration eligible for the first time next season, and while he won’t be super expensive in arbitration he’ll still be making more than the minimum. More importantly, he’d take up a roster spot that the Red Sox very much need. The organization has a roster crunch coming up this winter with at least seven minor leaguers they’ll likely want to protect from the Rule 5 Draft. That’s going to make 40-man spots very important, and there’s basically no realistic scenario for the month of September that would make it so Peraza is worth one of those spots.
So, once you come to that conclusion, there is really no reason to keep him around for this season. Even if you think the best possible version of this Red Sox roster includes Peraza playing nearly every day — a specious argument in my view — it’s not best moving forward. I don’t think the Red Sox should be, say, sitting Christian Vázquez, Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers in an effort to lose as much as possible, but on borderline decisions an eye towards the near-future should be paramount.
With respect to Peraza, as we discussed, there’s really no reason to believe he is part of the future beyond the next few weeks. His time would be better served to go to guys like Michael Chavis, Jonathan Araúz, Tzu-Wei Lin and Yairo Muñoz. There’s no guarantee all four of those guys are part of the future, but they have a better shot than Peraza. Furthermore, designated Peraza for assignment would open up a spot for C.J. Chatham to finally get some swings in against major-league pitching.
It’s never fun to suggest a player be cut and lose his job, but that is the reality of this Red Sox team. They aren’t going anywhere this year, and if you’re not performing and you’re not set up to be part of next year’s team, there’s really no reason to continue getting playing time. And if you’re not getting playing time, you’re just taking up a spot that could go to someone who may be part of the future. Peraza got his chance to rebound this year, but he just hasn’t done it. That makes him unlikely to survive next winter’s roster crunch, and at this point he’s serving more to hold back against potential role players for the next few years than actually contributing to the present or the future for the organization.