The Minnesota Twins have added another option to their emerging pool of pitchers for spring training in an attempt to put together a pitching staff that is more competitive and balanced than the catastrophe of 2012. On Thursday, the Twins signed former Cleveland Indians reliever Rafael Perez to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. Twins’ fans may remember Perez as the left-handed reliever for the Indians who had very good stuff and knack for striking out opponents. Perez posted a 1-0 record with a 3.52 ERA over 7.2 innings while striking out four throughout eight games in an injury riddled season last year. For his career, Perez is a 21-12 pitcher with a 3.64 ERA in 338 total games over seven seasons. For the majority of his career, Perez has worked out of the bullpen with his last extensive work in the starting rotation coming in 2007 while at AAA in the Indians organization. As fate would have it, Perez would like a shot at returning to the rotation during his audition with the Twins, but also is open to returning to the bullpen if the experiment fails.
I for one am absolutely on board with this signing and credit Twins General Manager Terry Ryan for continuing to look for options to fill his bullpen and starting rotation. While I see Perez as more of a bullpen option, he provides the Twins with another lefty in the bullpen to go with Tyler Robertson, Brian Duensing and Glen Perkins. With Robertson only having half of a season under his belt and Duensing competing for a rotation spot, the signing of Perez makes sense to add another competitive option—who has Major League experience—to the pitching staff. The signing is also the type of move that I have been clamoring for all off-season, low risk-high reward—and often short-term—signings. Perez can be a valuable asset if he can regain his form and health this season after suffering a shoulder injury that ended his season last year and eventually required surgery last September. Perez may not be ready to fully take on a role in spring training that he is fully capable of; but if he is to earn a spot on the staff, he must prove something to the Twins in whatever opportunity or role he is placed in.
The Twins have a staff full of injury concerns and if one does not work out, they can simply try the next option. If worse comes to worse, we end up seeing a similar rotation that we ended up with last season: a conglomeration of AAA starters. I believe that Perez will end up being seen as a great signing this off-season and may even contribute enough for the Twins that they could look to deal him around the trading deadline to a team in need of relief pitching—and trust me, there is always teams in need of relief pitching—for future pieces. Overall, great move for all parties considered; now let’s hope this isn’t another Joel Zumaya.