ROBERTO PEREZ, CATCHER
|Born: December 23, 1988
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.
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.
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.
In High-A, Perez continued to struggle to hit, apart from still drawing a lot of walks.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Still backing up Gomes, Perez collapsed at the plate.
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.
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.
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. The Pirates signed him immediately after trading Jacob Stallings.
Perez took over for Stallings as the Pirates’ regular catcher. He figured to be similar to Stallings, except probably not quite as good. Perez played fairly well in the early season, providing a reasonable approximation to Stallings, but on May 7 he suffered a hamstring injury. It required surgery, ending his season.
Perez was an obvious injury risk, but Ben Cherington didn’t bother to find a legitimate backup catcher during the offseason. As a result, Perez’ injury left the Pirates with a dismal situation behind the plate. They were expected to try to re-sign Perez for 2023, but once the season ended some doubts started to arise, as they always do with the extraordinarily cheap Pirates.
2017: $675,000 (signed four-year extension with club options for 2021-22)
|Signing Bonus: N/A
MiLB Debut: 2009
MLB Debut: 7/10/2014
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2022
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 7/8/2014
Options Remaining: 0
MLB Service Time: 8.083
|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.