Going into this past offseason, Jose Peraza was looking forward to what was supposed to be his fourth full season with the Cincinnati Reds and his first as an arbitration-eligible player.
Instead, the Reds did not feel the need to pay Peraza the $3.6 million he was projected to make in arbitration, and subsequently non-tendered him in early December.
When speaking with reporters at Fenway Park via Zoom on Tuesday, the Venezuela native said through team interpreter Bryan Almonte that he “was surprised” to be non-tendered by Cincinnati.
Granted, the 2019 season was not a great one for Peraza, as he slashed an underwhelming .239/.285/.346 with six homers and 33 RBI over 141 games played. But considering how he experienced some moderate success the year before, it had to have come as a shock to be let loose so quickly.
Just over a week after getting cut by the Reds, Peraza inked a one-year deal with Boston, where he now has the chance to be a part of the team’s infield picture for years to come seeing how he is under team control through the 2022 season.
With the addition of Peraza also comes the addition of more positional versatility, something teams can never seem to get enough of these days. The 26-year-old said that much on Tuesday, stating that he’d be willing to play “second base, shortstop, third base, whatever [Red Sox manager] Ron Roenicke” asks him to do. Not to mention he is capable of playing a little bit of outfield as well.
Prior to joining the Sox over the winter, Peraza had never had the chance to play inside Fenway Park. He now has the chance to do that on a regular basis, and he even said that Fenway will be “a good ballpark for [me] to hit in” and he’s “excited to be playing there.”
Upon signing with Boston, Peraza probably expected to make his Red Sox debut back in March. He has instead had to wait for that to happen due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but the league-wide shutdown did allow him to work out at home in Miami and “make a few adjustments” with his swing.
“The thing I really focused on in the offseason in Miami was just my leg kick,” Peraza added. “One of the changes that I made was altering that. … I’m a little bit more confident. I’m seeing the pitches better as well. At first, when we first got back, I was just trying to get my rhythm going. But now I have the confidence where I’m going out there, (and) I just feel good about where I stand right now in terms of my hitting.”
Because of those adjustments made during the layoff, Peraza now says, on top of “feeling great physically and mentally,” he also feels “more confident” at Summer Camp in Boston than he did at spring training in Fort Myers.
Roenicke echoed that same sentiment last week, saying he’s “so impressed with what [Peraza’s] doing,” when asked about the infielder’s offensive approach at camp.
A former international signee of the Braves ten years ago, Peraza will earn approximately $1.11 million with the Red Sox in 2020 when taking this season’s prorated salaries into account.