The Braves have inked left-handed reliever Luis Pérez, a former Toronto Blue Jay, to a minor league deal as they continue to search for southpaws who can contribute in the Major League bullpen. MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo broke the news.
Cotillo also reports that Pérez will likely spend approximately a month in extended Spring Training as he continues to rehab from arthroscopic elbow surgery following Tommy John, and is expected to be a member of the Braves' Major League bullpen once he is ready. The Braves brought Pérez in for a bullpen session last week, and must have been convinced to give him a deal based on his performance.
Pérez, a 29-year-old who was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2003 and is a converted starting pitcher, underwent Tommy John surgery after suffering a UCL tear in 2012 while pitching for the Blue Jays, and was let go by the Canadian club this spring. He also had arthroscopic surgery in January to remove residual scar tissue following the surgery, but plans to be ready in a month or so He spent parts of three seasons between 2011 and 2013 as a member of Toronto's bullpen, and recorded a 4.50 ERA in 112 career innings with 99 strikeouts and 45 walks.
Pérez is a ground-ball pitcher who utilizes a heavy sinker that sits around 92-94 miles per hour to induce hitters to hit the ball on the ground. He's primarily a two-pitch pitcher who compliments the aforementioned sinker with a slider. He rarely flashes a changeup as well, but Pérez will primarily be utilized as a LOOGY, in all likelihood, as his numbers against left-handed hitters (.294 wOBA, 56:11 K/BB ratio career) are much stronger against his numbers (.361 wOBA, 43:34 K/BB ratio) against righties. You can get an idea of what his stuff looks like and his arsenal in the embedded video below:
The Braves made this signing as a reaction to the lack of Major League-ready left-handed pitching in their bullpen. After Ryan Buchter is sent down following the activation of Ervin Santana next week (that's the plan at this point), the Braves will only have inexperienced rookie Ian Thomas as well as Luis Ávilan as options from the left side in the bullpen. Jonny Venters' health remains a question mark, although most indications suggest that he could be ready in June if his rehab goes as planned, which is no guarantee considering that he's attempting to come back from a second Tommy John surgery. With the addition of Pérez, the Braves will add a left-handed arm with prior big league experienced who has proven to be effective against lefties. Left-handed bullpen depth is paper-thin at this point, and this signing gives the Braves more wiggle room in terms of left-handed options for the bullpen.