Late Friday afternoon word came out that the Washington Nationals and Detroit Tigers had completed a trade, swapping a pair of right-handed relief pitchers. Washington received Ryan Perry in the deal, sending Collin Balester to Detroit.
Perry, who will turn 25 in February, was a 1st Round pick (#21 overall) in the 2008 Draft and moved quickly, making his MLB Debut the following April for the Tigers. Over the past three seasons he has made 149 appearances, pitching 161.1 innings out of the Tigers bullpen. He’s 5-6, with a 4.07 ERA on his career with 7.2 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9.
Ballester, who turned 25 this past June, was a 2004 4th Round pick by the Montreal Expos – the final draft by the organization before they moved to Washington. Over the past four seasons he has appeared in 62 games for the Nationals, including 17 starts. He is 5-16 with a 5.17 ERA in 167.0 career innings with 7.1 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9.
The two pitchers are largely similar in age and with respect to their career numbers. Ballester is out of options, having an extra year of service time under his belt, and it’s possible that factored into Washington’s decision to deal him. The added roster flexibility that Perry’s extra option provides could prove to be crucial for the Nationals during the 2012 season as Perry can be sent down if needed without having to risk losing him to a waiver claim. Perry is often profiled as having a closer-type makeup, likely part of the reason why Detroit seemingly rushed him to the Majors. I don’t expect him to step into such a role with Washington, but he could ultimately find his way into the setup role mix as he continues to develop and mature as a pitcher.
Ballester, who could have his work cutout for him in a deep Tigers bullpen, will be missed in Washington, as he always seemed like a tough competitor and was popular with most fans. The added roster flexibility that Perry brings, along with some upside remaining, makes this a deal I’m on board with, however. Perry, presuming he makes the roster out of Spring Training, should be an interesting piece to watch in middle relief this season.