Texas Rangers: It’s Time to Call Off the Martin Perez Experiment

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 25: Martin Perez #33 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the San Francisco Giants in the bottom of the first inning at AT&T Park on August 25, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 25: Martin Perez #33 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the San Francisco Giants in the bottom of the first inning at AT&T Park on August 25, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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A staple of the Texas Rangers rotation over the past few seasons, it’s really time to move on from the Martin Perez experiment.

Over the past few seasons, there hasn’t been a pitcher who has had a more solidified role within the Texas Rangers rotation who is still on the team. Martin Perez, save for injuries, has been considered a cornerstone of the Rangers rotation no matter how flawed that thinking may be. As we wrap up 2018, a year when many were hoping that Perez would break out, it’s become pretty clear that he should not be a part of Texas’ long term plans.

The 27 year old has had yet another season marred by injuries and the dreaded “Big Inning” he’s bound to give up each start. Across his 13 starts this season Perez has a shockingly poor 6.95 ERA which is on pace to be the highest of his career by over a point. There has been a visible lack of development with Martin and at a point where he should be hitting the prime of his pitching career, he’s seemingly at his worst.

Perez has never had swing and miss stuff evidenced by the fact that he’s never had a single season WHIP under 1.3. While that isn’t very good, it’s manageable if he has the ability to get groundball outs and double plays to get out of innings. Generally, he has been able to, maintaining a career Double Play rate seven percentage points higher than the MLB average. His best year came in 2014 when he maintained a rate of 33% across his 8 starts. Like most of his statistical measurements though, Perez is trending down now maintaining a rate of just 12%. His walks/hits per inning pitched has also gotten notably worse in 2018 jumping to 1.893.

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Why Would the Rangers Hang On Past 2018?

So if it seems so cut and dry that Perez just doesn’t have the stuff to make it in the Texas Rangers rotation, why would they continue to hold onto him? The answer is simple-ish. Texas holds a team option with Martin Perez for both 2019 and 2020. They likely, much to the chagrin of Rangers faithful, will pick up his 2019 option which is worth $7.5 million. That would put him 39th on the highest paid pitchers list currently under contract or with an option for next season according to Sportrac.. Generally, that would seem like good value which is likely why Jon Daniels and the front office would be inclined to make this move. Unfortunately, the value isn’t there with as bad as he’s been and if he is in anyway taking away starts from somebody else.

Along with his somewhat okay contract, Perez is only 27 and Texas seems desperate for him to work out. The franchise as a whole has struggled to develop pitching and for awhile it seemed Martin Perez could be their best product in recent memory. Knowing that they won’t be competitive for a few years, it will almost be a “why not” mentality when it comes to trying to develop Perez.

What’s the Best Compromise in Dealing with Perez?

I would be okay with bringing Martin Perez back for 2019 on a couple of hopeful conditions. First off, I would like to see Perez in a bullpen role. Often his “big inning” comes the second or third time through a team’s order. Moving him to a relief spot would really eliminate this and hopefully improve his efficiency and ability to be effective.

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Additionally, and probably a bit less important, I’d like to see Perez bought out and brought back on a team friendly contract. If the Rangers buyout Martin, it would cost them $750,000. If they could then bring Perez back on a 1 year deal with a team option for 2020 worth about $12 million, I’d feel a lot more at peace about having Perez on the Opening Day roster.

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