Pittsburgh Pirates: Potential Martín Pérez Bargain

Did the Pirates get a great deal on Martin Perez?

Boston Red Sox v Texas Rangers
Boston Red Sox v Texas Rangers / Tim Heitman/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

The Pittsburgh Pirates signed Martín Pérez to a one-year, $8 million deal, but could this be a bargain deal for the team?

The Pittsburgh Pirates signed Martín Pérez to a one-year, $8 million deal to help reinforce their starting pitching depth. It wasn’t a very big move, but based on how expensive the rest of the pitching market is right now, even for middle/back of the rotation arms, did the Bucs get a bargain for Pèrez at that price?

Pérez pitched 141.2 innings, working to the tune of a 4.45 ERA, 4.99 FIP, and 1.40 WHIP. His 8.1% walk rate was slightly better than average, and his HR/9 of 1.33 was just a touch worse than average, but his strikeout rate of 15.3% was much further away from the league average compared to both his walk and home run rates.

Pérez is more of a ground ball pitcher and had a 45.5% ground ball rate and paired that with a quality 7.6% barrel rate and a 37.2% hard-hit rate. Based on that, Pérez could see his HR/9 drop going forward.

Now, it wasn’t a horrible season, but a major letdown after his great 2022 campaign where he had a 2.89 ERA, 3.27 FIP, and 1.26 WHIP through 196.1 frames. His 20.6% strikeout rate was the highest of his career and the first time he had a strikeout rate over 20%. He also kept a similar 8.4% walk rate. He was great at limiting home runs with a 0.50 HR/9 rate. That is because he had a barrel rate of just 4.3% and a ground ball rate of over 50% (51.4%). Luck played a role in Pérez’s success as he had a 3.80 xFIP and 4.08 SIERA, so some regression was expected.

So, how is Pérez a potential bargain? Well, look at what Sean Manaea signed for. He inked a two-year deal at $28 million ($14 million a season). I agree that Manaea has a higher ceiling/more potential than Perez, but he hasn’t had a consistently good season as a starting pitcher since 2021. Wade Miley is going into his age-37 campaign, making him about four years older than Pérez. Even though he had a much better ERA compared to Pérez in 2023, he had a very similar strikeout rate, walk rate, HR/9, and barrel rate. He will make $500,000 more than Pérez.

Just take a look at Pérez’s last two seasons compared to the other two veteran left-handed pitchers who signed this winter that I just brought up (leader in bold):

'22-'23 combined

ERA

FIP

SIERA

K:BB ratio

IP

Martin Perez

3.54

3.99

4.60

2.22

338

Sean Manaea

4.73

4.36

3.86

3.09

275.2

Wade Miley

3.15

4.52

4.91

2.06

157.1

Pérez signed for less than Sean Manaea and Wade Miley, two pitchers I wanted the Pirates to go after and ones I’m sure other Pirates fans wanted them to pursue. But looking at it like this, Pérez wasn’t all that bad in comparison. I get that Pérez is less enticing than either Manaea or Miley were, but once you look at what all three have done over the last two years, Pérez looks decent.

Considering that Pérez not only signed for less than both and less than $10 million when some middle-to-back-of-the-rotation pitchers are making $12+ million on the market this year, Pérez may honestly be a steal for the Pirates. That’s not to say that he’s going to repeat his 2022 season and give the Pirates a sub-3.00 ERA, but if he gives the Pirates an ERA around 3.80-4.00, which is optimistic, but not unreasonable in my opinion, this could be a very under the radar move.

Next. mlodzinski 2023 recap. 2023 Recap: Carmen Mlodzinski. dark