Oliver Perez ended his disastrous season on a fitting note yesterday, coming into a 1-1 game in the 14th inning, striking out the first batter he faced, hitting the second batter he faced, and then handing out three straight walks, the last of which forced in the game-winning run with the bases loaded.
Now, in fairness to Perez it was literally his first appearance in four weeks and he pitched in just three of the Mets’ final 57 games. And in fairness to the Mets, he finished the season 0-5 with a 6.80 ERA and more walks (42) than strikeouts (37) in 46 innings.
Perez told reporters afterward that he plans to pitch winter ball in Mexico and wants to return to the Mets:
I do want to come back here. I need to prove to the people that I can be the pitcher I was before. They boo because I’m not pitching good. When you don’t do the job, that’s what they’re going to do.
Obviously the Mets would love to part with Perez, but they owe him $12 million for next season and he’s been so bad that simply eating a big chunk of that salary probably won’t convince another team to take him off their hands. They may have to eat basically the entire $12 million. And it might be worth it.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.
Comments from an anonymous team official suggest that Rangers right-hander Tyson Ross will not be expected to join the rotation until May or June, per a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Both Ross and GM Jon Daniels favor a conservative approach for the 29-year-old as he works his way back up to full health after undergoing surgery last October to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.
The delay is reportedly being implemented so that Ross will be have the strength and stamina to contribute during the stretch run. Per Daniels:
We would rather err on a little extra time up front with the goal being to finish strong, pitching in big spots, meaningful games down the stretch and hopefully past 162.
Ross signed a one-year deal with the team on Thursday after pitching through an injury-riddled season with the Padres in 2016. If all goes according to plan, he’ll slot into a rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner and Martin Perez. The Rangers are expected to narrow down their fifth starter alternatives in spring training.