Pittsburgh Pirates: Re-Signing Roberto Pérez Would Be Smart

Pittsburgh Pirates injured backstop Roberto Pérez has expressed interest to return to the club in 2023, but should this be something the Pirates explore?

The Pittsburgh Pirates roster took a massive hit back in early May when backstop Roberto Pérez suffered a season-ending hamstring injury. Although Pérez would be out for the rest of the season, he showed a desire to return to Pittsburgh in 2023. His sentiments haven’t changed since then, according to beat reporter Justice Delos Santos:

When Pérez went on the injured list, he was providing a solid bat, hitting .233/.333/.367 with a .315 wOBA and 101 wRC+/98 OPS+. He was a top-hitting catcher at the time, ranking 6th in wRC+ and wOBA and 7th in OPS. Plus, he was providing elite-level defense. He already racked up +4 defensive runs saved, and +2.4 framing runs above average. Even though Perez has been out since May 7th, he’s still top 10 in defensive runs saved and top 15 in framing runs.

There was even a decent argument to be made that he could become better as the season went on. He had an exit velocity at 89.3 MPH, had a hard-hit rate of just over 50%, coming in at 51.4%, and had an expected wOBA of .324 (compared to his actual wOBA of .315). Pérez was silently putting together a high-quality season and was on pace for a 4+ fWAR season.

If the Pittsburgh Pirates were to re-sign Pérez, it likely wouldn’t be for very much, if a guaranteed deal at all. Pérez had injury questions going into this season already. Between 2020 and 2021, he played in just 34.2% of Cleveland’s contests.

The Pirates snagged him for $5 million this off-season. Not only does Perez come with injury questions, but he’s not getting any younger. Next season will be his age-34 campaign, which is quite old for a backstop. The aging curve is notoriously harsh to catchers because it’s the most physically demanding position.

But the upside in bringing back Pérez on a one-year deal worth $1-3 million or even a minor league contract can’t be understated. With Henry Davis coming up, it would be nice to have such a quality defender as a backup. Pérez could open 2023 as the starting catcher until Davis is ready and then serve as the backup and a great mentor for Davis when he arrives in the majors. The potential reward outweighs the risk associated with signing Roberto Perez to a one-year deal worth $3> million, or even a minor league deal.