ROBERTO PEREZ, CATCHER
Born: December 23, 1988
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 220
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Drafted: 33rd Round, 1011th Overall, 2008 (Indians)
How Acquired: Free Agent
College: Florida Gateway College
Agent: MDR Sports Management
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
Perez spent 2014-21 with Cleveland, mostly as a backup catcher.  He’s very strong defensively, with a very high career CS% of 39%, and good pitch blocking and framing skills.  From 2017-20, Perez led all catchers in defensive runs saved (DRS) and was fifth among all major league players, regardless of position.  He had an off-year in 2021, possibly due to multiple injuries.  At the plate, he’s generally been bad.  He’s shown some power at times, while at others he’s hit for very little.  He’s generally drawn walks at a good rate, but his strikeout rate has been off the charts throughout his career.  The Pirates signed him as a free agent for 2022.  His $5M contract seems high considering that he made $5.5M while batting .149 in 2021.

2009
R:  351/438/511, 131 AB, 12 2B, 3 HR, 16 BB, 28 K, 4-5 SB
A-:  214/267/286, 14 AB, 1 2B, 1 BB, 4 K
A:  240/381/260, 50 AB, 1 2B, 8 BB, 19 K, 0-1 SB

The Indians sent Perez initially to the New York-Penn League, then moved him to the rookie-level Arizona League after a few games.  In mid-August they moved him up to Low-A.  He had little trouble against the pitchers in rookie ball, but considerably more at the higher levels.  He threw out a combined 36% of base stealers.

2010
A:  217/360/339, 378 AB, 22 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 80 BB, 88 K, 1-3 SB

Perez spent the season in Low-A.  Apart from drawing a great many walks, he struggled at the plate.  He threw out 40% of base stealers.

2011
A+:  225/365/310, 284 AB, 16 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 62 BB, 79 K, 1-1 SB

In High-A, Perez continued to struggle to hit, apart from still drawing a lot of walks.

2012
AA:  212/336/293, 283 AB, 16 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 49 BB, 67 K, 0-1 SB

Perez continued hitting as he had the last two years, this time in AA.  He did throw out 41% of base stealers and was voted the Eastern League’s best defensive catcher.

2013
AA:  247/453/376, 93 AB, 6 2B, 2 HR, 32 BB, 25 K, 1-2 SB
AAA:  176/269/241, 187 AB, 12 2B, 22 BB, 59 K, 0-1 SB

The Indians shuffled Perez back and forth between AA and AAA for a while, but in mid-June moved him up to AAA for good.  He improved at the plate in AA, with an outlandish walk rate, but was overmatched in AAA, as the pitchers obviously had less trouble throwing him strikes.

2014
AAA:  305/405/517, 174 AB, 11 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 29 BB, 51 K, 1-1 SB
MLB:  271/311/365, 85 AB, 5 2B, 1 HR, 5 BB, 26 K

Back in AAA, Perez suddenly started to hit well.  That got him a July callup and he stayed in the majors the rest of the season.  His hitting in Cleveland was respectable, at least.

2015
MLB:  228/348/402, 184 AB, 9 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 33 BB, 64 K

Perez stayed with Cleveland all year.  He was mainly the backup to Yan Gomes, but he spent some time as the starter when Gomes was hurt.  At the plate, he started to show more power while continuing to draw walks.  He threw out 42% of base stealers.

2016
R:  333/571/333, 9 AB, 5 BB, 1 K
A:  000/333/000, 2 AB, 1 BB
AAA:  400/571/600, 5 AB, 1 2B, 2 BB, 1 K
MLB:  183/285/294, 153 AB, 6 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 23 BB, 44 K

Perez was slated to share the catching duties with Gomes again, but a thumb injury cost him all but a dozen games until August.  By then, Gomes was hurt and Perez was the starter the last two months.  He didn’t hit much, although the aftermath of the thumb injury could account for that.  He threw out half of the runners who tried to steal on him.

2017
MLB:  207/291/373, 217 AB, 12 2B, 8 HR, 26 BB, 71 K, 0-1 SB

At the beginning of the season, Perez signed a four-year contract extension, running through 2020, with club options for 2021 and 2022.  On the field, he continued to back up Gomes.  He showed some power at the plate but otherwise didn’t do much.  He threw out 43% of base stealers.

2018
MLB:  168/256/263, 179 AB, 9 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 21 BB, 70 K, 1-1 SB

Still backing up Gomes, Perez collapsed at the plate.

2019
MLB:  239/321/452, 389 AB, 9 2B, 1 3B, 24 HR, 45 BB, 127 K

With Gomes gone, Perez became the principal catcher.  He had a career year at the plate and won the Gold Glove.  He didn’t commit a passed ball all year and threw out 41% of base stealers.

2020
MLB:  165/264/216, 97 AB, 2 2B, 1 HR, 11 BB, 38 K

In the pandemic season, Perez really collapsed at the plate.  It didn’t affect his defense, as he won another Gold Glove by throwing out 71% (10-of-14) of base stealers and again committing no passed balls.

2021
AA:  357/400/500, 14 AB, 2 2B, 1 BB, 3 K
AAA:  125/290/125, 24 AB, 6 BB, 7 K
MLB:  149/245/319, 141 AB, 3 2B, 7 HR, 17 BB, 56 K, 1-1 SB

Injuries hampered Perez for much of the season.  He missed about two months with a fractured finger, then was out from early August until mid-September with shoulder inflammation.  When he played, he didn’t hit at all.  In fact, his hitting was remarkably similar to the dismal season Michael Perez had for the Pirates.  It’s possible the injuries played a role, but Perez’ hitting for most of his major league career suggests that 2019 was an outlier.  He threw out only 16% of base stealers, but apart from a small sample size the injuries could have played a role.  Perez became a free agent after the season when Cleveland declined his option.

Perez will take over for Jacob Stallings as the Pirates’ starting catcher.  In fact, they likely rushed to get Perez signed before the lockout after having traded Stallings the day before.  Considering the abysmal offense the Pirates displayed in 2020-21, the downgrade from Stallings to Perez isn’t exactly heartening, although he may at least approach Stallings’ defensive play.  Perez will likely be around for only one year as the Pirates wait for their catching prospects to arrive.  So he’ll be another in a long line of players to mark time with while the Pirates await the mythical day when they finally start trying to win games.

CONTRACT INFORMATION
2022: $5,000,000
2021:
$5,500,000
2020:
$3,625,000
2019:
$2,625,000
2018:
$1,625,000
2017:
$675,000 (signed four-year extension with club options for 2021-22)
2016:
$515,800
2015:
$508,600
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: N/A
MiLB Debut: 2009
MLB Debut: 6/19/2016
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2022
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 6/19/2016 (removed on 5/17/2019)
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2016, 2017, 2018)
MLB Service Time: 7.083
TRANSACTIONS
June 7, 2006: Drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 29th round, 863rd overall pick.
June 6, 2008:
Drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 33rd round, 1011th overall pick; signed on August 11.
July 8, 2014: Contract purchased by the Cleveland Indians.
November 5, 2021: Became a free agent.
November 30, 2021: Signed as a free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
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