On Thursday, the Cleveland Indians shocked many in baseball as they released their controversial closer, Chris Perez. Perez, due a raise in arbitration, was apparently not part of Cleveland's future plans. But could he be part of a revamped bullpen in Detroit?
Who is he?
Tiger fans should be reasonably familiar with Perez, closer for the Cleveland Indians since midseason 2010. Perez is actually a product of the Cardinals farm system, having been traded to the Indians at the deadline in 2009. Perez is a two-pitch pitcher, with a good fastball that sits in the low to mid 90's and a good slider.
Why should we care?
Because Detroit tends to do well with Cleveland's castoffs (paging Jhonny Peralta...)
No, but seriously. The Tigers are looking to rebuild the bullpen, and Perez might be an incredible buy-low option. Taking a look at his 2013 line, there are flashes of 2012 Joaquin Benoit. Perez suffered from incredibly bad luck on balls in play (his batting average on balls in play, or BABIP was 40 points above his career numbers), on home runs (his HR/9 jumped by nearly 80 points) and his line suffered from a poor September, in which he posted a 5.73 ERA and blew a couple saves. Perez also had injury woes last season, being placed on the disabled list in May with shoulder problems, but he recovered and his velocity had started to return by the end of the year.
The Tigers are looking to fill the three spots in the back end of the bullpen vacated by Joaquin Benoit, Jose Veras and Drew Smyly (who will presumably return to the rotation), and Perez provides the Tigers with an experienced relief arm who could either set up or close.
Why should we stay away?
For one, Perez has off-field issues. He was busted for marijuana use this summer and pled no contest to a misdemeanor drug charge in September. He's also been in hot water with Indians fans, who he criticized twice in 2012 for not showing up to the ballpark to support the team. Perez also ripped on the Tigers for underperforming in 2012, forever alienating many Detroit fans.
On the field, there are also injury risks, and I'm sure people look at Perez's September and worry about handing him a prominent role on the team.
Will he end up in Detroit?
It's tough to tell with relievers. Perez is a good buy-low option on the relief market, and he could rebound to become a really nice piece for a contender's bullpen next year. For what it's worth, Perez has noted that Tigers owner Mike Ilitch is willing to spend on his team to win, which may be things Perez is looking for. That, and it's easy to imagine Perez as the type of guy who would really like to stick it to his former team. Tigers fans may come to see an old enemy in the Old English D next season, and perhaps beyond.
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