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.