Rafael Perez non-tendered by Indians; could help Tigers bullpen in 2013

Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE

The Tigers are looking for left-handed relief pitching, and former Indians lefty Rafael Perez fits the bill.

I feel dirty profiling two Cleveland Indians in a row, but sometimes the offseason makes us do crazy things. Since the Tigers are apparently interested in an outfielder and a left-handed reliever, today's target is LOOGY Rafael Perez.

Who is he?

Perez is a 30 year old lefty who missed most of 2012 due to injury. In 329 innings over the course of seven years with the Indians, Perez has a 3.64 ERA/3.62 FIP/3.61 xFIP. He strikes out 7.33 batters per 9 innings -- more on that in a bit -- and walks 3.20 hitters per 9. In 2011, Perez's last full season with the Tribe, he was 5-2 with a 3.00 ERA in 63 innings.

Why should we care?

He should be a cheap option who won't torpedo us. While he tends to get nickeled and dimed at times -- his WHIP from 2009 to 2010 was 1.725 -- he doesn't allow many home runs, having given up just 26 dingers over the course of his entire career. His walk rate climbed up to frightening levels in the aforementioned 2009 and 2010 seasons, but he returned to a sub-3.00 per 9 innings walk rate in 2011. Coming off of a lat injury, Perez should come at a discount of the $2 million he made last season.

Why should we stay away?

Perez has had trouble with getting lefties out in the past. Over his career, lefties have hit .256/.323/.355 off of him compared to .255/.317/.377 against righties. This has varied wildly from year to year though. In 2011, Perez allowed a .594 OPS against lefties; in 2009, that particular OPS split was 1.068.

Additionally, I'm concerned with the drop in Perez's strikeout rate. In 2008, Perez struck out 10.14 batters per 9 innings. That figure has been steadily declining since, bottoming out at just 4.71 strikeouts per 9 innings in 2011.

Will he end up in Detroit?

I have no clue. While the Tigers have expressed interest in acquiring another lefty for the bullpen, guys like Perez are largely a dime a dozen. I think he will be better than Darin Downs over the course of an entire season, and he won't break the bank either. Either way, you won't see me getting too bent out of shape over a guy who is our fourth or fifth option out of the bullpen.

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