Acquired: Trade, 6-27-2009:
Traded Mark DeRosa to the St. Louis Cardinals for Chris Perez and PTBNL (Jess Todd)
Service Time: 5.136
2013 Salary: $7.3M
2014 Status: Arbitration
Has it been 4.5 seasons already? When the trade was made, I was skeptical about whether Perez would become a good late-inning reliever given the development history of previous flamethrowers in the organization. But as much as we've complained about the latter-day Chris Perez, that he's even here in 2013 says that something went right. Perez quickly became the team's closer, and had some fine years. He made some All-Star teams thanks to all the pretty saves he compiled, but he did have an outstanding season (2010) and a couple good ones (2011-2012). But this season was not good.
If we initially confine our analysis to Perez the pitcher, 2013 saw many of the key reliever rates fall off the table. When you look at a reliever, you usually look at three statistics: strikeouts, walks, and home runs. Because when a closer comes into the game, the game is usually on the line, and you don't want to mess around with balls in play or free base runners. And for goodness sakes, you want to keep the ball in the yard.
This what Perez had done in his three full seasons prior to this year:
You were expecting a trend? Nope, no trends here. According to those ratios, Perez had a poor season in 2011, but recovered to have the kind of season in 2012 that you'd hope a closer would have. Last season he found the plate with regularity, and although the rest of the team was a mess, the back-end of the bullpen was not a problem in 2012. Now Perez off the field was a pain in the behind, and it seemed that he would be cut loose in the post-2012 purge because. But Terry Francona came aboard, Perez changed his attitude toward the organization,and he would stick around for another season.
Perez was named to the 2013 World Baseball Classic roster, but just before he was to leave the Indians to train with the US team, he injured his shoulder, and missed most of the rest of Spring Training. He didn't start the season on the Disabled List, though, notching the save in the season opener. But things started to unravel in May. He allowed the tying and go-ahead runs (both home runs) against Seattle on May 18th (though the Indians would come back to win). He allowed the go-ahead home run to the Mariners two-days later (again, on a home run), but somehow the Indians would win that game too. But against Boston on May 26th things didn't end well, as not only did he blow a four-run lead, but would leave the game with a shoulder injury.
Things would get worse. The following week Perez would be arrested by Rocky River police and charged with drug possession. Two packages containing marijuana were delivered to the Perez resident with Brody Baum (the Perez's dog) as the addressee. Perez would later plead no contest to the charges.
Perez would return from the Disabled List at the end of June and would pitch well for a time. But on August 7th, he would blow an important game against the Tigers. He would stay the closer, but after that game he stopped talking to the media (he had already closed his Twitter account). The Indians started to win in September, and he pitched the ninth inning in many of those wins. He was not dominating by any stretch of the imagination, but someone was getting the job done. But on September 24th, he fell off the tightrope. He gave up two ninth-inning home runs to the Chicago White Sox, and only Jason Giambi's dramatic two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth got him off the hook. Two days later, he came into a 6-1 game and proceded to give up four runs before being removed. The Indians hung on to win that game, but he would not pitch again for the Indians.
Remember those rates I mentioned above? Here's what he did in 2013:
Perez allowed 11 home runs, almost double his total the year before. That more than anything else accounted for his poor season, and ultimately lost him his job at the end of the season.
We've probably seen the last of Chris Perez in an Indians uniform. He'll be eligible for arbitration again this winter, and would probably be getting $8.5-$9.5M in salary should the Indians tender him a contract. That isn't going to happen. The Indians will probably try to trade him, won't be able to thanks to the player/salary combination, and will likely non-tender him in December. The Indians could re-sign him at a lower salary then, but probably they'll just move on without him.