The Pirates and left-hander Martín Pérez are in agreement on a contract, pending a physical, per a report from Robert Murray of FanSided. It will be a one-year, $8MM deal, per Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Pérez, 33 in April, had a career year in 2022 but couldn’t keep it going into the following campaign. Last year, he made 32 starts for the Rangers and logged 196 1/3 innings with a 2.89 earned run average. His 20.6% strikeout rate was a bit below league average but his 8.4% walk rate was solid and his 51.4% ground ball rate was strong. He was also quite good at missing barrels and limiting hard contact that year.
He likely benefitted from a high strand rate of 77% and a low 6.5% rate of fly balls leaving the yard, which is why his 3.27 FIP and 4.08 SIERA were a bit less impressive. But it was a strong season nonetheless, with his 4.0 wins above replacement from FanGraphs and 5.0 from Baseball Reference both career highs by wide margins. The Rangers had enough faith in that performance to issue Pérez a $19.65MM qualifying offer, which he accepted.
Unfortunately, the regression gods came for him in 2023, with Pérez struggling enough to get moved to the bullpen in August after the Rangers acquired Max Scherzer and Jordan Montgomery at the trade deadline. At that point, Pérez had an ERA of 4.98, with his strikeout rate having dropped to 14.4% and his grounder rate down to 41%. He pitched reasonably well out of the bullpen over the final two months of the season, eventually dropping his ERA to 4.45, but it was obviously not the season the Rangers envisioned at that price point.
The Pirates will be paying him less than half of what he made last year and likely won’t be expecting anything like that 2022 campaign, as it stands out as a clear outlier. But even if they get the solid back-end guy that Pérez has been for the rest of his career, that will be an upgrade for their rotation. From 2012 to 2021, Pérez threw 1,102 2/3 innings with a 4.71 ERA. He didn’t get many strikeouts but limited his walks to around league average and got grounders on almost half of balls in play.
The Pittsburgh starting rotation had an ERA of 4.88 in 2023 as the stability was quite low. Mitch Keller and Johan Oviedo each made 32 starts, but Oviedo won’t be an option for 2024 due to Tommy John surgery. Rich Hill made 22 starts for the club but then went to the Padres at the deadline and is now a free agent. 12 other hurlers made at least one start…