Chris Perez remains sidelined by a strained shoulder and still has plenty to address regarding misdemeanor drug charges stemming from a package of marijuana that was delivered to his home earlier this month, but the right-hander appears to be nearing his return to the Cleveland Indians bullpen. Once he’s back, however, reports (including a mention in the latest Sunday column by Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe) are starting to surface suggesting that the team could look to make him available as we inch closer to the upcoming trade deadline. He won’t be a free agent until after next season, but could appeal to a contending organization as an option to strengthen the backend of their bullpen over the final two-plus months of the 2013 campaign.
Perez made 17 appearances before hitting the DL in late May, going 2-1 with a 4.32 ERA and 6 saves. He’s posted a strong 9.7 K/9 but has been walking a career-worst 5.4 BB/9.
Given his $7.3 Million salary this season and the potential increase in arbitration next January, it’s conceivable to think that Perez might be a non-tender candidate this winter. Either the Indians themselves or a team that were to acquire him this summer could look to make such a move, moving to other candidates to fill out their bullpen rather than pay Perez an amount that could potentially exceed $10 Million for his final year before free agency. With Vinnie Pestano seemingly waiting in the wings, Cleveland could finally look to make him their closer on a more permanent basis if they’re able to move Perez for a marginal return.