Washington Nationals Sign Oliver Perez To 2-Year, $7 Million Deal


The Nats made the first step to improving their bullpen by adding veteran left-hander, Oliver Perez on a two-year deal.

Before the Winter Meetings begin on Monday, the Washington Nationals did make a signing this afternoon to improve their bullpen. According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, the Nats signed left-handed reliever Oliver Perez to a two-year, $7 million deal:

Last season, Perez played for both the Arizona Diamondbacks and Houston Astros. After having a 3.10 ERA in 48 games with Arizona, the D’Backs traded him to Houston in early August. Over the final 22 games of the regular season with the Astros, he was 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA and had 14 strikeouts to four walks in 12 innings of work.

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Normally, these numbers would not be a good sign for any reliever. But, it would appear the Nationals would use Perez  mainly against left-handed hitters. This past season, lefties had a slash line of .185/.235/.283 with one home run and nine RBI’s. He would strike out 33 batters and walk five over the course of 91 at-bats. Meanwhile, righties had a .310/.417/.465 slash line with three home runs and 14 RBI’s over the course of 71 at-bats.

This is also the second time Perez has signed with the Nationals. Back in March of 2011, the Nats signed the now 34-year-old to a minor league deal when he was predominantly a starter. He appeared in 16 games and made 15 starts with the double-A Harrisburg Senators that season. Perez went 3-5 with a 3.09 ERA, struck out 58 batters and walked 27 over 75.2 innings, but never made it up to the big leagues.

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Perez was signed by the San Diego Padres in 1999 as a minor league free agent. Since making his debut in 2002, he has pitched for six different teams over his 13-year career. Those teams are the Padres, Pirates, Mets, Diamondbacks, Mariners, and Astros.

When Perez heads to the mound, he brings two pitches to the table. He has a fastball that averaged out at about 92 miles per hour this season (according to Fangraphs) and a slider (only used his changeup 0.1% of the time). His fastball has stayed around 90-92 miles per hour on average every year except for one (88 miles per hour with the Mets in 2010). During his career, Perez is 1-3 in ten games (three starts) at Nats Park with a 4.68 ERA, but he has only given up one run over his last seven innings there, dating back to 2010.

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All in all, this is a good first step for the Nats’ bullpen. Perez could take the role of Matt Thornton as a pitcher who mainly faces left-handers and a lefty to pair with Felipe Rivero, who had a good rookie season with the Nationals. It will be interesting to see what other moves the front office makes to help a bullpen that finished sixth in the NL in ERA this season (3.46).