Chris Perez avoids arbitration with Indians for $7.3 million

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Chris Perez has avoided arbitration in his second-to-last season of eligibility, agreeing to a one-year, $7.3 million deal with the Indians.

Perez showed some signs of decline in 2011, including a career-worst strikeout rate of 5.9 per nine innings, but last season he whiffed 9.2 per nine innings while saving 36 games with a 3.59 ERA.

If the Indians struggle in 2013 he’ll likely be a prime trade candidate, as Perez will probably command more than $10 million via arbitration for 2014 and would then hit the free agent market at age 28. Vinnie Pestano is waiting in the wings to take over ninth-inning duties if needed, although for now at least Perez is obviously a big part of Cleveland’s plans.

Yankees to hire Josh Bard as their new bench coach

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Aaron Boone has no experience as a coach or a manager at any level. As such, some have speculated that he’d hire a more seasoned hand as his bench coach as he begins his first season as Yankees manager. Someone like, say, Eric Wedge, who was a candidate for the job Boone got and who once managed Boone in Cleveland.

Nope. According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, he’s going with Josh Bard.

Bard, 39, was a teammate of Boone’s with the Indians in 2005. He’s not without coaching experience, having spent the last two seasons as the Dodgers’ bullpen coach, but he’s not that Gene Lamont/Don Zimmer-type we often see in the bench coach role.

Which is fine because different managers want different things from their bench coach. Some are strategy guys, helping with in-game decision making. Others are relationship guys who help managers understand all of the dynamics of the clubhouse while they’re worrying more about lineups and stuff. Others are trust guys, who can serve as the manager’s sounding board, among other things. Some are combinations of all of these things. As Feinsand notes in his story, Boone said at his introductory press conference that he’s looking for this:

“I want smart sitting next to me. I want confidence sitting next to me. I want a guy who can walk out into that room and as I talk about relationships I expect to have with my players, I expect that even to be more so with my coaching staff. Whether that is a guy with all kinds of experience or little experience. I am not concerned about that.”