The Boston Red Sox lost Rick Porcello on Thursday to the New York Mets but essentially replaced him with 28-year old left-hander Martin Perez. Perez spent the 2019 season with the 101-win Minnesota Twins but started his career with the Texas Rangers. The Red Sox need pitching help in the worst way, so what can Boston expect from their newest signee?
Setting Expectations for Martin Perez
If you are into untapped potential, then Martin Perez is the pitcher for you. Back in the day, Perez was one of the better pitching prospects in the low minors. Baseball America had him as the 17th best prospect in baseball back in 2010 and the Venezuela native made his major league debut back in 2012.
Unfortunately, Perez never managed to live up to that expectation. Throughout the course of his career, Perez has pitched 926.2 innings to the tune of a 4.72 ERA, 4.48 FIP, and a 4.54 xFIP. These numbers are far from inspiring and don’t give too much hope for future success. Since 2012, he ranks 207th in ERA and 183rd in FIP among 238 qualified starting pitchers. That’s not great! There is also no indication that he’ll get any better any time soon, as he finished the 2018 season with a 5.12 ERA and a 4.66 FIP in 165.1 innings of work.
Perez is primarily a two-pitch guy, throwing his fastball and changeup a combined 77.2% of his time throughout his career. However, he added a cutter in 2018 in an attempt to develop a third pitch and become less predictable. The plan sort of worked, as he struck out a modest 7.35 batters per nine innings while posting a 3.65 BB/9. The walk rate fell in line with his career averages, but his strikeout rate was notably better than his career average (5.80 K/9).
How Perez Fits in the Rotation
In a perfect world, Martin Perez would be the sixth man in the rotation and the first guy called up if injury struck the rotation. However, this is not a perfect world and it looks like Perez is going to be a key contributor to the rotation. If the season started today, Perez would probably be the fifth guy on the mound. However, the season doesn’t start today and the Red Sox will probably make quite a few moves between now and then.
As of this posting, the Red Sox rotation is currently comprised of Chris Sale, David Price, Nathan Eovaldi, and Eduardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez took a huge step in the right direction last year and isn’t going anywhere, but the other three could easily be on the move. The Sox would love to get rid of Eovaldi, but it’s hard to imagine anyone trading for that contract. Chris Sale, meanwhile, is certainly available but the team would have to get a good offer. David Price, on the other hand, is as good as gone. The Red Sox desperately want to reset the luxury tax line and shedding Price and his $32 million base salary is one of the best ways to get it done.
If the Red Sox trade Price away, Perez becomes the fourth starter in the rotation, which is decidedly not good. Chain Bloom could still add another mid-rotation arm after dealing away Price, but that seems unlikely with the ownership’s self-imposed spending limit.
The Boston Red Sox still have the vast majority of the 2018 core in their prime, yet ownership seems content to waste the last year of pre-free agency Mookie Betts by cheaping out with moves like this. It’s unfortunate, but it is what it is.
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