Free agent catcher Roberto Perez has signed a minor-league contract with the Giants, the club announced Saturday. Perez will be at major-league spring training and will have the chance to earn $2.5 million with another $1.5 million available in incentives if he makes San Francisco’s active roster.
As was first reported by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Giants agreed to a deal with Perez last Sunday. The Red Sox made an aggressive bid for Perez, per Cotillo, and were even in consideration at the end, but the veteran backstop ultimately thought San Francisco represented a better fit.
Perez, a veteran of nine major-league seasons, was limited to just 21 games with the Pirates last year due to a right hamstring injury that ultimately required season-ending surgery in May. The right-handed hitter batted .233/.333/.367 with two home runs and eight RBIs across 69 plate appearances before his one-year contract with Pittsburgh expired in November.
While offense has never been Perez’s strong suit, he is still regarded as one of the top defensive catchers in baseball. During an eight-year (2014-2021) run in Cleveland, the native Puerto Rican was named the Wilson Overall Defensive Player of the Year in 2019 and won back-to-back Gold Glove Awards in 2019 and 2020.
To counter a lackluster career OPS of .658, Perez Perez has thrown out 97 of 248 potential base stealers in his big-league 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.
The Giants, at present, have just one catcher on their 40-man roster in Joey Bart. They also acquired versatile catching prospect Blake Sabol from the Reds in December’s Rule 5 Draft and have Austin Wynns slated to compete for a roster spot in spring training.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, have two catchers — Reese McGuire and Connor Wong — on their 40-man roster. They also have Caleb Hamilton and Ronaldo Hernandez, who were both outrighted earlier this winter, and minor-league signee Jorge Alfaro set to join them at big-league camp in Fort Myers later this month.
In all likelihood, Perez likely viewed his chances of making San Francisco’s Opening Day roster out of spring training more favorably, which is why he elected to sign a minors pact with the Giants over the Red Sox. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom addressed this very topic and the potential catching competition as a whole when speaking with Cotillo on The Fenway Rundown podcast last week.
“[Perez] saw a better opportunity out there and that’s OK,” Bloom said. “We’ve been talking about this all along. The two guys that finished the season for us in the big-leagues (McGuire and Wong), we really like. At the same time, we recognize that neither of them have carried this load at the major-league level before. They both have things to prove and experience they don’t have under their belts, so it made sense to add someone who’s decisively a frontline catcher or someone who can create competition in that mix.
“Alfaro’s really intriguing,” added Bloom. “Always has been in terms of what he brings to the table. Just having some of the loudest tools and the best physical ability. Somebody we feel we can help. [Jason Varitek] got pretty excited about the possibility of working with someone who has that kind of ability and creating some competition there.
“So, we’ll see how it goes,” he said. “Again, these other two guys have had a bit of a head start in working with our pitchers, working with our staff, and really understanding what we expect on a daily basis. And that means something. But, we wouldn’t have brought Alfaro in without wanting to see what he could do and seeing where this goes.”
(Picture of Roberto Perez: Justin Berl/Getty Images)