Facing a decision on whether to tender him a 2014 contract via arbitration, the Indians have decided to simply release closer Chris Perez.
Perez made off-field headlines when he was arrested for having marijuana delivered to his house in his dog’s name this season, but he also missed time on the disabled list and struggled with a 4.33 ERA and five blown saves in 30 chances. He was a total mess down the stretch.
Perez was acquired from the Cardinals in the mid-2009 trade for Mark DeRosa and ended up spending five seasons in Cleveland, saving 124 games with a 3.33 ERA and 251 strikeouts in 268 innings. However, his velocity was down this season and he served up too many homers to go along with what has always been shaky control.
He’d have been in line for a raise on this year’s $7.3 million salary and it would have been tough for the Indians to justify that type of money for a 60-inning reliever who’s not even elite. Perez will surely draw plenty of interest as a free agent, but may have to compete for a closer gig or maybe even settle for a setup role.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.