One of the pitchers most connected to the Red Sox this winter, Corey Kluber, signed with the Yankees on Friday, which at least from the outside added a bit more urgency to the team’s search for starting pitching help. According to reports, they have indeed added a pitcher today, though it’s not one of the top ones on the market. Instead, it’s running it back with one of the few pitchers who didn’t totally implode from last year’s staff. According to Ken Rosenthal, Boston is close to a one-year deal with Martín Pérez with a team option for a second year.
Free-agent left-hander Martín Perez close to agreement with Red Sox, source tells The Athletic. Deal will be for one year with a club option. Red Sox had declined Perez’s $6.85M option on Nov. 1.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 16, 2021
As Rosenthal notes, the Red Sox could have had Pérez for $6.85 million and somewhat surprisingly declined that option at the beginning of the offseason. As it turns out, the Red Sox made the wise decision financially speaking by declining the option, as this deal will be worth $4.5 million with the club option worth $6 million. Those figures come from a report from Alex Speier.
Getting to the fit itself, this is certainly underwhelming in the context of the pitchers we’ve been thinking about most of the offseason, with guys like Kluber and Jake Odorizzi and Tomoyuki Sugano. Pérez is not of that class, and is closer to a Renfroe or Andriese level signing. Pérez will have a role, but he won’t be leaned on too heavily, at least not if things go vaguely according to plan. Last season, the lefty pitched to a 4.50 ERA (104 ERA+) over 12 starts and 62 innings. That’s a bit better than he’s been the rest of his career, as he’s generally been consistently worse than league-average.
Ultimately, it’s hard to totally evaluate this signing without knowing what else they’re doing, if anything, to address the rotation. With Pérez back in the picture, the rotation currently looks like Rodriguez, Eovaldi, Pérez, Houck, Pivetta, which is still not good enough. If this is where they stop, they deserve all of the criticism in the world. If they add another starter but one at or below the level of Pérez, the same applies.
However, at this point it would still be surprising if that was the case. And if they do indeed add another starter from a higher tier than this, it’s fine. It’s still a bit underwhelming, but Pérez has been relatively durable over his career and that can’t be said of some of the other higher upside options that figure to command a similar contract. It’s not great, but you can live with it. But again, we don’t know any of that until it actually happens.
It’s also worth noting that Pérez will, of course, have to be added to the 40-man roster, which is full at the moment. They still have some players they can likely designate for assignment without too much unease, but it will be interesting to see how long it takes for them to actually announce this. Obviously Andrew Benintendi has been in the news with the trade rumors swirling around him. They could be working the phones still on that kind of trade to clear a spot, or potentially another deal like the one that sent Yoán Aybar to Colorado. My guess it will be someone like Joel Payamps or Jeffrey Springs getting DFA’d, but it’s worth wondering if this is just the first of a few moves that could be coming.