The Nationals, a source confirmed, have reached a minor-league deal with Oliver Perez, a left-handed reliever the Mets released last week following two years of rampant ineffectiveness despite owing him $12 million this season. Perez will report to Classs AAA Syracuse and work with Nationals pitching coordinator Spin Williams, his former pitching coach with the Pittsburgh Pirates, in an effort to recreate past success.
The signing was first reported by Yahoo! Sports.
Perez, 29, compiled a 6.81 ERA in 112 1/3 innings over the past two seasons, walking 100 batters over that span. Perez is owed $12 million this year, but the Mets will have to pay all but the minimal minor league salary committed by the Nationals.
The Nationals risk virtually nothing in signing Perez, but they get a pitcher with seemingly little chance to recapture the form that convinced the Mets to give him a three-year, $36 million contract before the 2009 season. The Mets converted Perez into a reliever last season in hopes he could at least retire left-handed batters consistently. Instead, he calcified in their bullpen, making 10 appearances after the middle of May. The last appearance came against the Nationals, in Game 162. He walked three batters and hit another to force in the winning run.
“I haven’t seen him in several years, so I don’t know what he’s doing right now,” Williams said. “He hasn’t really fared very well. I think it’s an interesting move for us. It’ll be interesting to see where he’s at at this time.
“We’re no smarter than anybody from that standpoint of trying to get the guy better. But I had a pretty good rapport with him. He’s struggled as of late, but he’s still young enough. It’ll be interesting to see where he’s at. See if we can give him some different.”
Last year, Perez walked 8.2 batters per nine innings. He once threw his fastball 95 miles per hour, but began losing his velocity after a knee injury in 2009. This spring, he reportedly threw his fastball in the low-80s. Perez last appeared for the Mets last week against the Nationals, when he yielded home runs to Brian Bixler and Jeff Fraizer, walked Roger Bernadina and left the field to a torrent of boos.
Perez becomes the 11th player affiliated with agent Scott Boras currently in the Nationals’organization. The Nationals also added veteran Ron Villone on a minor-league deal this spring after signing Alex Cora, Rick Ankiel and Jayson Werth this offseason. The full roster of Boras clients, in no particular order:
1. Stephen Strasburg
2. Bryce Harper
3. Jayson Werth
4. Rick Ankiel
5. Danny Espinosa
6. Ivan Rodriguez
7. Alex Cora
8. Alberto Gonzalez
9. Ron Villone
10. Oliver Perez
11. Jesus Flores