Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dodgers, Chris Perez, close to 1-year contract, according to report

Ned Colletti appears to have finally settled on his "high-leverage" reliever with closing experience, as the Dodgers are reportedly close to signing former Indians' closer Chris Perez to a 1-year contract.

Terms aren't yet known, but it'd be a shock if Perez got more than a $4 million contract. He was set to go into his last year of arbitration after earning $7.3 million in 2013. The Indians (wisely) decided to non-tender the burly right-hander.

Perez, 28, is best known for his antics off the field. In August 2012, he confronted an Athletics' fan and had some choice words for said fan. He attempted to mail some marijuana to his home using his dog's name. Seriously.

Oh, and he's not a very good reliever. Well, he used to be, but he was pretty bad in 2013. Perez posted a 4.33 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 9.3 H/9, 1.8 HR/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a 9.0 K/9. And his ERA didn't exactly jive with his 5.08 FIP. He was worth nearly a negative win in 2013 (-0.9). That's pretty hard to do out of the bullpen.

Perez's biggest bugaboo is his propensity for giving home runs. He owns a 1.1 HR/9 for his career, and gave up 11 in 54 innings this past season. His home run-to-flyball rate was an astronomical 20 percent (meaning, for every 100 fly balls he were to give up, 20 of them would over the fence). Dodger Stadium should help him with that problem, but he'll need to keep the ball down to be an effective reliever.

Barring anything unforeseen, Perez is likely slated for seventh-inning duty for the Dodgers.

His repertoire consists of a low-to-mid-90s fastball and a low-80s slider. He threw a curveball sparingly in his first two seasons, but he's been a two-pitch pitcher ever since. FanGraphs rated Perez's fastball at -15.4 last season -- the worst among all MLB relievers with at least 50 innings pitched.

Perez was good in 2010, posting a 1.71 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP in 63 innings at the age of 24 (despite a 4.0 BB/9). So, there's a chance he could recapture some of what made him an effective reliever just a few years ago.

The move likely means Jose Dominguez will begin the 2014 season in the minors (likely in Albuquerque). Chris Withrow is also a candidate of beginning the season in the minors, if the Dodgers need the active roster space -- but it'd be a mistake. If Perez is replacing, say, Brandon League, I say it's an upgrade. If he's replacing Withrow, it's a big, big mistake.

The Dodgers' 40-man roster is officially at 37, but when the signings of J.P. Howell and Juan Uribe become official, that number will go to 39. The Dodgers still need a couple bench pieces and could be in on Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka. The Dodgers will almost assuredly place Chad Billingsley on the 60-day disabled list at some point, so that could also open up another spot. Otherwwise, I wouldn't get too comfortable if I'm Mike Baxter, Justin Sellers and, to a lesser extent, Javy Guerra.

Photo credit: Keith Allison, Wikimedia Commons

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