The Minnesota Twins have recently signed 30 year-old left-handed pitcher Rafael Perez to minor league deal, with an invite to the big league camp. The Dominican reliever had found success in his tenure with the Cleveland Indians, especially in 2007 when he posted a 1.78 ERA over 44 appearances. The Indians bumped up his workload as a setup man and over 338 career appearances he holds a respectable ERA of 3.64.
However, Perez clocked only 7 and 2/3 innings last year because of shoulder problems. He had bone spurs removed in September and threw for scouts this week. Apparently, the Twins liked what they saw–at least enough to sign him to a low-risk one year deal and suggest that he will be considered for a spot in the starting rotation. Perez hasn’t started a game since AAA.
Perez is a crafty left who relies on his change-up and slider to get outs. While he can get a guy swinging, he’s really not a strikeout kind of reliever. But he also won’t walk many guys either. In other words, he’s right up the Twins’ alley.
I don’t think it was a bad move, per-say. Perez offers the Twins another low-risk high-reward pitcher battling for a spot in camp. It just seems so redundant. The Twins’ off-season has been full of similar signings–Rich Harden, Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey and Trevor May all seem like similar acquisitions. They probably won’t have a great year, but hey…they might.
It seems like GM Terry Ryan’s plan is to acquire twenty-some pitchers that could be serviceable big-leaguers and hope that a pitching staff somehow assembles itself. It will probably suffice, but surely not the way a contending team builds a rotation. This pattern of free-agent signings just reasserts that the Twins‘ front-office is not even pretending to compete this year–which is a bit discouraging if you’re a fan of the squad.
To Ryan’s credit–he very quickly has beefed up what was a depleted farm system. But it looks like Twins fans will have to sit through at least one more year of mediocrity before they see a competitive product in the dugout at Target Field.