Rafael Perez is eligible for salary arbitration for the fourth and final time this offseason. The Indians will have until the end of November t0 offer him arbitration or non-tender him and grant him free agency. If they do offer him arbitration, he’d be guaranteed a contract proposal from them of at least 80 percent of his 2012 salary of $2.005 million, or $1.604 million.
Perez spent the majority of the 2012 season on the disabled list with a myriad of injuries. His action was limited in spring training due to left shoulder inflammation and he appeared in only eight games tossing before being placed on the disabled list on April 26 with a strained latissimus dorsi muscle. His first trip to the disabled list in 2012 was also his first time on the DL in his seven-year career.
The prescription was res,t and in July he began a rehab assignment and appeared in five games (three with Double-A Akron, two with Triple-A Columbus) before being shut down due to an ankle sprain. Unfortunately for Perez as he ramped back up his throwing routine the pain in the shoulder persisted and the Indians finally shut him down on September 20. On September 27, he underwent debridement surgery on his left shoulder. He is expected to resume throwing in 2 months and be ready for spring training, but as Indians head trainer Lonnie Soloff noted, the history of shoulder surgeries is “not exceptionally great in throwing athletes.”:
“In any surgical procedure, you have to prove a guy needs it. Conservative management and a thoughtful rehab program are always the first steps in the process.”
The Indians also have to wonder what type of pitcher Perez will be upon his return given that his last full season was 2011. He was dominant the first half, posintg a 1.91 ERA with a 16.3 percent strikeout rate and a .581 OPS against. But the second half was a different story, as his ERA rose to 4.62, his strikeout rate dropped to 7.7 percent, and opposing hitters OPSed .752 against him.
Although the Indians can certainly afford the probable $1.6 million in salary that Perez would command in the arbitration process, it may be preferable to non-tender him, then offer him a one-year contract which includes a lower base salary plus incentives for appearances. If he is unwilling to sign for less than the $1.6 million that he’d earn in arbitration, the Indians should allow him to test the free agent waters and explore other options on the free agent market.
In Scott Barnes, Nick Hagadone, and Tony Sipp the Indians have three competent left handed options already poised to compete in spring training. Perez would be nice to have too, but not for as much as he would cost in arbitration.