The Cleveland Indians are giving Oliver Perez another shot in 2021.
The 39-year-old southpaw reliever originally joined the team back in 2018 and just posted a 2.00 ERA in 2020.
He was on the open market so the team decided to go the low-cost, high-reward route of signing him to a minor-league deal and hoping for the best.
#Indians bringing LHP Oliver Pérez back into camp on minor league deal.
— Tom Withers (@twithersAP) February 18, 2021
His Success So Far
Perez has been a pleasant surprise since the day he arrived in Cleveland.
His 2018 season began with a failed attempt to land a spot with the Cincinnati Reds, followed by another release by the the New York Yankees.
The Indians quickly picked him up and the result was a 1.39 ERA in 51 games.
Perez has proven to be a go-to pitcher for Terry Francona even with the MLB rule changes regarding the three-batter minimum.
The veteran is a former starter was able to make the necessary changes to stick around for nearly two decades and there is no reason why he can’t make the bullpen in 2021.
Perez is a veteran who can eat up innings while younger players who did not get game action in 2020 can spend some time in the minors to get back to a normal workload.
Doing this also allows the Indians to hold more service time on the young arms who may be future starters or relievers for the club.
The focus now is on how Perez stacks up against the other veterans getting a shot in camp this season.
Competition in Goodyear
Perez is not the only veteran reliever looking to turn a minor-league deal into a full-time job with the Indians.
Bryan Shaw, Blake Parker, DJ Johnson, and Heath Hembree are names to keep an eye on as well.
Shaw is the most notable because of his history with the team, but Parker may be the best of the entire group.
We already know there are several locks in the bullpen.
Nick Wittgren, Emmanuel Clase, and James Karinchak are the late-game options guaranteed jobs.
After that there is room for competition among the likes of Logan Allen, Cam Hill, Cal Quantrill, Adam Plutko, Scott Moss, Trevor Stephan, and several others.
There is also a question of who will land the fifth and final spot in the rotation.
If the Indians give it to, say Allen, they can send other starters down to Triple-A Columbus instead of the bullpen.
That opens up a spot or two in the bullpen for someone like Perez to win a job.
There is a fine line between prolonging service time for young players and not sending them up and down to waste minor league options.
Perez is at an age where he may just want to be cut loose if he doesn’t win a major league job out of camp.
Twinkies. Cockroaches. Oliver Perez. https://t.co/4JdugQ7icD pic.twitter.com/MvQWpvggVJ
— KFC (@KFCBarstool) February 19, 2021
Playing the roster game might be something he is past at this point.
The best way to win a job is to be better than your competition.
Perez has 18 MLB seasons under his belt and shows up with the advantage of experience as he battles for what could be his final job in the majors.
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