According to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, the Astros announced this morning that left-hander Sergio Escalona has a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow and will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery next week.
Escalona, who was acquired from the Phillies last January, posted a 2.93 ERA and 25/11 K/BB ratio over 27 2/3 innings out of Houston’s bullpen last season. The 27-year-old held left-handed batters to a .188/.278/.313 batting line and a .590 OPS.
With Escalona sidelined, Wesley Wright and Fernando Abad will likely compete for the team’s left-handed specialist job. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow hasn’t dismissed the possibility of using non-roster invitee Zach Duke out of the bullpen if he doesn’t win a spot in the starting rotation.
The Reds have signed free agent reliever Oliver Perez to a minor-league contract, the team announced Saturday. The deal comes with a major-league invite and could be worth $1.25 million if Perez secures a roster spot this spring, with an additional $500,000 in potential performance bonuses.
Perez, 36, is coming off of a two-year run with the Nationals. He produced a 4.64 ERA, 3.3 BB/9 an d10.6 SO/9 through 50 relief appearances and 33 innings with the club in 2017. The veteran lefty hasn’t kept an ERA under 4.00 in at least four seasons, but he continues to be undeniably solid against left-handed batters, holding them to a .227/.301/.364 batting line over 18 1/3 innings last year.
While returning southpaw Wandy Peralta appears to have locked down a bullpen spot already, Perez will still compete for another role against fellow left-handers Cody Reed and Amir Garrett, both of whom also have experience in the rotation. If Perez doesn’t break camp with the team, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon notes, he’ll be permitted to opt out of his contract. The Reds are currently looking to bounce back from a dismal performance in 2017, one in which their bullpen ranked 28th among major league teams with a collective 5.63 ERA and -1.2 fWAR.