Player Preview: Oliver Perez
Relievers are one of the stranger things about the game of baseball. The Nationals, an organization that often touts it's pitching staff has found them in a situation where they have to acquire some fresh bullpen blood. On December 11th of 2015, the Nationals picked up Oliver Perez for his second stint with the Washington organization. People often forget that Perez was picked up by the Nationals in March of 2011, 2 short days after being released by the Mets. Perez has gone through the ringer to try and make himself a big leaguer again, and it seems to have paid off for him.
In the beginning Perez's career, he did just what the Mets needed him to do. Though he was prone to allowing big innings, he was pretty good for the most part and the Mets believed he was a big part of the team going forward. Before the 2009 season, Perez signed a 3 year deal with the Mets, but that deal would quickly look bad for the Mets. Perez, due to injury and other factors struggled mightily in 2009. Perez would ultimately hit the DL and be done for the 2009 season. 2010 did not end up a lot better for the left hander, as the team would try to send him down to the minors to resolve his issues, but instead Perez landed in the Mets bullpen. After a lot of struggles and frustration, the Mets released Perez with $12 million still on contract on March 21st 2011.
Perez then spent some time relearning his pitching mechanics and how to get people out in the minor leagues. He was picked up by the Nationals 2 days after being released by the mets and put at Double A Harrisburg. He started 15 games there and relieved once. In 2012, the Mariners picked up the lefty on a minor league deal. Perez earned a nod back up to the big club in Seattle as a reliever on June 16th and he would go on to pitch 29 and 2/3 innings as a Mariner with a 2.12 ERA and a 2.93 FIP. Given the good performance, the Mariners brought him back for a second season where he would have his best year yet as a reliever. Perez had a 12.57 K/9 and a 3.26 FIP over the course of 53 innings in 2013. 2014 and 2015 saw continued success for Perez for the Diamondbacks and the Astros.
This all brings us to today, preparing to start the 2016 season and the left hander has found himself back in the Washington Nationals organization. All that Perez has learned and the struggles he endured has lead him to reforming himself and finding success in a different way than he had thought he would back in 2010. Today, Perez holds a 2 year $7 million contract with the Nationals. Given that he was able to become an adequate reliever, the Nationals got a good deal with his acquisition. There is no reason to doubt that as long as Perez stays healthy, the Nationals will be on the receiving end of a quality reliever that reinvented himself in Seattle, then carried his success through 3 strong seasons of big league ball.
Perez had a rocky 2009 and 2010, but his success in recent seasons has left a good feeling on the left hander. Perez stands to be a good addition to a bullpen that is in something of a state of flux. As of now, the Nationals are in a significantly better position with Perez than without him.