Red Sox: Martin Perez has a chance at redemption in short 2020

FT. MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 15: Martin Perez #54 of the Boston Red Sox throws during a team workout on February 15, 2020 at JetBlue Park at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
FT. MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 15: Martin Perez #54 of the Boston Red Sox throws during a team workout on February 15, 2020 at JetBlue Park at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /
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The Red Sox sign Martin Perez for a bargain

This past offseason was a tumultuous one for the Boston Red Sox. There was an investigation into possible cheating, a blockbuster trade, an injury, a few hirings, and a few firings. Now that the dust has settled and we’re a few short weeks away from Opening Day, the team is beginning to take form. One thing that Boston needed to address this past winter was their pitching, and they did that by signing Martin Perez.

Perez is a veteran lefty that has loads of potential but has yet to hit that mark. After spending seven seasons with the Rangers he made his way to Minnesota for the 2019 campaign. I’ll admit that when you look at his career stats nothing really jumps off the page. He averages a 4.72 ERA with 597 strikeouts and 337 walks through 926.2 innings pitched. Hence why Chaim Bloom was able to get him for just $6M.

When it comes to potential it’s pretty impossible to put your finger on exactly what it is. A guy can have electric stuff on Monday and then not be able to find the strike zone on Friday. Looking at Perez’s numbers and that feels like the story. His record often falls near .500, with some glaring seasons in the mix.

But if he didn’t have that potential and the capability to reach it, then teams would’ve given up on him long ago. That’s why I feel like this could be the season we see the best Martin Perez ever, and the pitcher knows he needs to show exactly that.

Red Sox lefty Martin Perez knows this is his year

As I mentioned above, Perez has a deal for the 2020 season but there is an option for the 2021 campaign as well. With the uncertainty of Chris Sale’s Tommy John recovery and the rest of the pitching staff, a strong season could see him return to Boston next spring. That isn’t lost on the southpaw as he spoke about the matter on a Zoom call a few days ago.

"“I have a feeling this is going to be a big year for me,” Perez said. “I feel great,” he said. “I don’t need to throw too much. I know what I need to do. And I think I’m ready.”"

He’s going to need to keep that confidence in his arm and abilities as his role drastically changed for 2020. He was signed to essentially be the fifth man in the rotation but as we all know, he’s been promoted. With David Price now with the Dodgers and the aforementioned injury to Sale, Perez will most likely be slotted in at the three-spot in the rotation. But there’s another wrinkle in that plan.

It was recently made known that Eduardo Rodriguez tested positive for COVID-19 and it’s in serious doubt if he’ll be ready for Opening Day. This means Nathan Eovaldi is the favorite to get the ball on Opening Day with Perez now being bumped up to pitch second. Once E-Rod returns then things may shift back into the regularly scheduled programming, but only time will tell how Ron Roenicke is going to manage his pitching staff.

Either way, this is good news for the lefty has his opportunities have just increased. He went from being the low man on the totem pole to now being the second man in line. Even in a 60-game season, he’s going to be getting plenty of chances on the bump. Considering it’s going to be a sprint and not a marathon to October, the lights will be shining even brighter.

Despite his past inconsistencies, Perez is looking at the positives of his career and is ready to begin his new chapter with the Red Sox.

"“But I just want to take all the positive things and put them into this year. Put everything together. … I have a good feeling. I feel great,” Perez said. “I’m happy to be here and part of this organization. When you feel good and you’re happy, you can do whatever you want. And I trust my stuff, I believe in my stuff.”"

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He looked strong during the first round of spring training and is carrying that over to summer training camp. If he can keep a strong mental game as well as his arm healthy, then he can be a major asset to Roenicke and the Red Sox. With a small sample size to work towards his future, he’ll need to have his game on point from the get-go. It may sound harsh, but Perez’s playing future will rest on his performance during 2020. He’s on the wrong end of 20 and will need to show he can still be a weapon for whichever team invests in him.

As a fan, I’m both interested and curious as to what Martin can do with the Red Sox this year. There is some security in that option for 2021, but nothing is a guarantee, especially if he’s a bust. If we get the Perez that we saw in the first half of 2019, as well as in spring training, then this may be a wonderful fit for both sides.

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The Red Sox open the 2020 campaign against the Orioles on July 23rd. For Perez, his season debut is most likely going to occur the next day in an early afternoon clash with Baltimore. He’s got two more weeks of camp to get his arm where it needs to be in order to hold up his end of the deal. Considering what we’ve seen and heard from him I’ll back him up, hopefully, he comes through.