The Red Sox are in talks with free agent catcher Roberto Perez, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.
Perez, 34, was limited to just 21 games with the Pirates last year after suffering a season-ending left hamstring injury in May that ultimately required surgery. The right-handed hitter batted .233/.333/.367 with two home runs and eight RBIs across 69 plate appearances before getting injured.
Prior to signing a one-year contract with Pittsburgh last winter, Perez spent the first eight years of his major-league career in Cleveland, where he established himself as one of the top defensive catchers in baseball by being named the Wilson Overall Defensive Player of the Year in 2019 and winning back-to-back Gold Glove Awards in 2019 and 2020.
Offensive has never been Perez’s strong suit, as the native Puerto Rican is a lifetime .207/.298/.360 hitter with 57 doubles, four triples, 55 home runs, 192 RBIs, 165 runs scored, two stolen bases, 190 walks, and 521 strikeouts in 511 games (1,752 plate appearances). He did, however, enjoy a career year in 2019 by clubbing 24 homers in 119 games with Cleveland.
Digging deeper into the defensive numbers, Perez has thrown out 97 of 248 potential base stealers in his career. The 5-foot-11, 220-pounder has accrued 79 Defensive Runs Saved in 4,052 1/3 innings behind the plate. He has also been among the game’s top pitch framers since Statcast first began tracking that data in 2015.
Injuries have limited Perez to just 65 games over the last two years, so there may be some questions surrounding his durability. That being said, Perez did appear in 10 games for the Indios de Mayaguez of the Puerto Rican Winter League earlier this winter, so he appears to be healthy heading into the spring.
Since the start of spring training is now less than a month away, Perez will likely have to settle for a minor-league deal. The Red Sox are not alone in their pursuit of Perez, either, as Cotillo reports that the veteran is “believed to have other suitors” on the open market.
As currently constructed, Reese McGuire and Connor Wong are the only two catchers on Boston’s 40-man roster. Jorge Alfaro, who was signed to a minors pact earlier this month, is expected to compete with Wong for a spot on the Sox’ Opening Day roster as the club’s No. 2 catcher. Caleb Hamilton and Ronaldo Hernandez, who were both outrighted off the 40-man roster, will also be at big-league camp as non-roster invites.
(Picture of Roberto Perez: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)