The oft-tumultuous Chris Perez era in Cleveland is over, as the Tribe has released the 28-year old reliever. Perez made $7.3 million in 2013, and was entering his final year of arbitration.
Perez's 2013 was his worst season yet. He saved 25 games and blew five for the Indians, pitching to a career-worst 4.33 ERA in 54 innings. After posting a 3.04 ERA in the first half, Perez's ERA ballooned to 5.60 in the second half despite his strikeout and walk rates both improving. Perez became much more hittable after the All-Star Break, allowing a .287/.355/.595 line and seven home runs. The velocity on Perez's fastball this season was also the lowest it's been over his career, perhaps indicating an injury. Perez missed a month of time in the first half due to a strained right shoulder, an injury that was also bothering him in Spring Training.
The Indians should be fine without Perez in the ninth inning thanks to the presence of guys like Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen, both of whom had great years in 2013 and are much cheaper than Perez. Joe Smith, who had a good year with the club, joins Perez on the free agent market. But if Vinnie Pestano is able to rebound from a disappointing 2013, and former starter Carlos Carrasco continues to thrive as a reliever, the Tribe's bullpen could be in a solid position without needing to overpay on the free agent market.
Perez was originally acquired by the Indians in the summer of 2009 from the Cardinals in exchange for Mark DeRosa. Considering DeRosa didn't even re-sign with the Cardinals following that season, I think Cleveland did pretty well on that one. Perez and his wife were also charged with drug possession this season, eventually pleading guilty to a fourth-degree misdemeanor.