Saturday, January 19, 2019

Perez Finalizes Rotation, Twins Have More Questions

Today Ken Rosenthal reported that the Minnesota Twins are signing left-handed pitcher Martin Perez to a one-year deal with a second year option. The former Texas Rangers starter now rounds out Rocco Baldelli's starting rotation. What he doesn't do is address the bullpen needs, or calm any concerns about resources being properly allocated.

Prior to this signing Minnesota was at a payroll of roughly $96.3 million. That number is $30 million below where they checked in to start 2018, and represents the ability to still add a significant amount of talent. With arms like Dallas Keuchel or Gio Gonzalez still on the open market, it's Perez who will take a roster spot on the 40 man.

A former top-100 prospect, Perez debuted with the Rangers back in 2012 and has been with the organization for the entirety of his career. Unfortunately through seven big league seasons he's been neither durable or very good. Having pitched 180 innings just twice, he has't posted a sub-4.00 ERA since 2013. With a career 5.5 K/9, Perez is a hurler that relies on ok control and the idea that batters will get themselves out.

Looking at how the Twins have executed this offseason, namely with their pitching, this comes across as another head scratcher. Likely taking the spot of Adalberto Mejia in the rotation, Perez doesn't push the needle. Instead of a Keuchel or Gonzalez addition that pushes everyone from the top down, the former Rangers starter simply fills in the last spot and adds to the overall depth.

If there's a positive in this move, it's that the acquisition makes the reality of Fernando Romero starting in the bullpen even more likely. There's no denying that 180 innings from the Twins fireballer would be great, but utilizing him in relief for 2019 could be of the most benefit. The bullpen needs help and Romero's bullets may go a lot further in that role.

You can bet Baldelli will utilize the opener strategy quite often in 2019, and Perez could be subject to that treatment. This front office has prided itself on the ability to both pinpoint and develop pitching. It's not that they don't know more on Perez than this lowly blogger. The problem is that there's both reason and circumstance to push the envelope and at every possible opportunity they've chosen to do less with more.

At some point it would be great to see the Twins make a commitment to their players by acquiring talent with expectations as opposed to being surprised by what comes of a decision. Martin Perez could certainly have a career year in Minnesota, and that'd be a great revelation, but banking on that is a process with many more flaws than we should be seeing right now.