MICHAEL PEREZ, CATCHER
|Born: August 7, 1992
Drafted: 5th Round, 154th Overall, 2011 (Diamondbacks)
How Acquired: Waiver Claim (from Rays)
High School: Colegio Vocacional Para Adultos (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Agent: MDR Sports Management
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|Arizona drafted Perez as a left-handed hitting catcher with good offensive potential. He hadn’t caught much by the time of the draft, so his glove was considered a project, although he has an above-average arm. Perez got off to a strong start at the rookie level, but ran into trouble once he got to full season ball due to an impatient approach at the plate. He advanced slowly and started hitting better at the upper levels, as he became more patient and less pull-oriented. He’s had some major league opportunities, but has struggled to hit. His defensive work was well regarded in the minors; he was named the best defensive catcher in the Diamondbacks’ system three times. In the majors, he’s thrown out 27% of base stealers, which is average. He’s had only one passed ball and rates slightly below average in pitch framing. The Pirates acquired him via waivers from Tampa Bay.
Perez had only a brief debut. He showed some power but also had trouble making contact. Baseball America ranked him 24th in the Arizona system after the season.
In advanced rookie ball, Perez hit well with very good power, although strikeouts remained an issue. He threw out 52% of base stealers. BA rated him 12th in the Arizona system.
Arizona tried jumping Perez to the California League and it didn’t go well. He was overmatched against the pitchers there, striking out in nearly half his at-bats. He did better after a mid-season demotion to low class A, but still not well. BA dropped him to 20th in the system.
Returning to low A, Perez missed time with a fractured hamate and an injury that resulted from getting hit in face with bat. He showed more patience at the plate and hit better.
Perez again started the season in the California League and it was a repeat of 2013. He again struggled to hit and again got demoted to low A, where he again didn’t hit much better.
Perez started the season in AA and, after struggling, got demoted to high A.
With improved strikeout and walk rates, Perez hit well in AA. BA rated him 30th in the system.
Perez continued to hit fairly well in AAA. A little before the trade deadline, the D’backs sent him to Tampa Bay, which immediately called him up. He hit reasonably well in the majors. Perez missed the last month of the season with a strained hamstring.
Perez opened the season with the Rays, but starting in early May missed a month with a strained oblique. He didn’t return to the majors until September.
Perez spent the shortened season with the Rays, mainly sharing the catching duties with Mike Zunino. By the time of the post-season, though, Zunino was the regular. The Rays designated Perez for assignment after the season and the Pirates claimed him.
Perez beat out Tony Wolters for the backup catching job in 2021, then proceeded to have one of the worst offensive seasons in baseball. Among 362 players with at least 200 plate appearances, he was next-to-last in wRC+, last by 20 points in batting average, next-to-last in OBP and third from last in OPS. Of the 57 games he started for the Pirates, he went hitless in 37, or 65%. Defensively, he was reasonably good, but not nearly enough to make up for the horrific hitting. He was good at blocking pitches and threw out 26% of base stealers. His framing, according to Statcast, slipped to a little below average.
Perez is eligible for salary arbitration. Regardless of salary issues, though, the Pirates should easily be able to find a solid defensive catcher who can avoid being one of the two or three worst hitters in baseball. A team with their disastrous lack of power can’t afford even a backup who contributes so little on offense. Ben Cherington has said the Pirates know they need to improve their 101-loss team. If he’s serious about it, finding a better backup catcher should be one of the lowest-hanging fruits.
|2021: Major league minimum
|Signing Bonus: $235,000
MiLB Debut: 2011
MLB Debut: 7/26/2018
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2025
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 9/1/2015
Options Remaining: 2 (USED: 2019)
MLB Service Time: 3.002
|June 7, 2011: Drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 5th round, 154th overall pick; signed on August 14.
July 25, 2018: Traded by the Arizona Diamondbacks with Brian Shaffer to the Tampa Bay Rays for Matt Andriese.
July 26, 2018: Contract purchased by the Tampa Bay Rays.
October 30, 2020: Claimed off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays by the Pittsburgh Pirates.