Martín Pérez accepts eligible offer

Left-handed Martin Perez has accepted the $19.65 million qualifying offer made to him by the Rangers, his agent Gustavo Marcano of Octagon confirmed Efrain Zavarce of IVC Networks. Pérez was one of 14 players to receive a QO, and the deadline for a decision was 3 p.m. Central today.

Pérez, 32, was once a touted prospect with Texas, considered one of the top 100 youngsters in the sport by Baseball America five years in a row from 2009 to 2013. It was the last of those five years that he seemingly reached the major league level, with a 3.62 ERA over 20 starts and 124 1/3 innings.

Since then, however, he has struggled to live up to his potential, continuing to get chances but serving more as a back-end innings-eater type. In the eight seasons from 2014 to 2021, his ERA never fell below 4.38, a stretch that included some modest free agent contracts, all for just one year. For 2019, he signed with the Twins for $4 million, followed by joining the Red Sox for $6 million in 2020 and re-signing with Boston for $4.5 million in 2021.

That pattern followed in 2022, when Pérez returned to the Rangers on a one-year, $4 million deal. Because the club handed out mega deals to people like Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, Pérez’s move remained largely in the shadows. However, he came into limelight by having the best season of his career at the age of 31. He made 32 starts and threw 196 1/3 innings while posting a 2.89 ERA.

His 20.6% pass rate was a career high, but only a hair, and it was still below the league average. He particularly excelled at keeping the ball on the ground and in the park. His 51.4% ground ball percentage was about eight points better than last year and his highest since 2016. His 6.5% HR/FB percentage was nearly 10 points better than last year and the best of his career in a full season.

Advanced stats are somewhat skeptical that 2.89 ERA is earned or sustainable, as they all determined him to be a bit worse. However, his 3.27 FIP, 3.59 xERA and 4.08 SIERA are still solid numbers and are a great fit for a Rangers rotation that has lacked stability for quite some time.

As the 2022 season drew to a close, reports emerged of mutual interest in a reunion between Pérez and the Rangers. They apparently recently discussed multi-year deals, presumably with lower annual salaries, but couldn’t get anything done before last week’s QO offering deadline. The club decided he was worth this year’s $19.65 million QO price tag and extended it last week. It’s still possible that a multi-year agreement will be worked out, with that new deal replacing QO. Such a scenario played out three years ago then Jose Abreu accepted a $17.8 million QO, but then agreed to a three-year $50 million extension. But for now, Pérez has guaranteed himself a handsome payday nearly five times what he earned in 2021.

With Pérez officially back for 2023, the Rangers’ rotation looks stronger than it did a few days ago as the club also Jake Odorizzi in a trade with Atlanta last week. Those two should be placed side by side Jon Gray for next year. Dane Dunning could be a candidate for the back end if he recovers from hip surgery in time for the start of the season. That gives them a decent group, but one that lacks the potential at the front of the rotation. However, the club seems to be aware of this as general manager Chris Young considers a run on some of the best free agent starting pitchers to add an ace to the mix.

Whether they can do that likely depends on payroll, as Pérez is now adding $19.65 million to the ledger. That puts them at about $141 million in spending for next year, according to Roster Resource’s estimate. That effectively puts them on par with last year’s opening day figure, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, though Young has already indicated that payrolls will increase and they were as high as $165 million in the past. If the rotation can move from a weak to a strong point next year, it could help the club achieve better results than their record of 68-94 in 2022.

Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.

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