Orioles Trade Options at the Deadline: Oliver Perez

The following post was written by Doug Nickerson in the very first guest post for Orioles Proving Ground.  Nickerson grew up as a Red Sox fan on Cape Cod, MA and is looking forward to writing about the Orioles with his knowledge of the AL East from a non-emotional perspective.  He moved to the DC area last August, and while he loves the city, he hates humidity and traffic.

Hi Orioles Fans!  Thanks for coming to Orioles Proving Ground.  This is my first contribution to OriolesPG; I hope you find it insightful and please let me know what you think.

As mentioned in Nate’s earlier post on laying out the needs of the Orioles coming into July, Baltimore needs pitching, pitching, and then more pitching. Dan Duquette looked to secure the back half of his rotation by acquiring starter Scott Feldman from the Cubs.  With the return of Wei-Yin Chen from the disabled list, and hopefully an improvement from either Jason Hammel (a FIP of 6.99 since June 1st says probably not), Zach Britton (pitched well but not far into games since June 18th with a high GB% of 54% and a BABIP of .282, and was optioned to AAA on July 9), or Kevin Gausman (pitched well out of the ‘pen but mixed results as a starter, and also optioned to AAA on July 9) the rotation will be stable and dependable 1-5.

That leaves the bullpen as a glaring need for improvement.  As with every year, teams in contention are looking for bullpen help as relievers performance can be fickle.  With the addition of another wildcard playoff spot, more teams are in contention and fewer teams are looking to sell.  Thus basic supply and demand can drive up the cost of these trade assets.  The Orioles will not be looking to be on the wrong end of a trade as the infamous Heathcliff Slocumb for Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe in 1997, or to a lesser extent, the Eric Gagne (horrific after trade) and cash (unneeded but best thing the Red Sox got) for David Murphy (a serviceable 10.2 WAR since trade), Kason Gabbard (forgettable), and Engel Beltre (23 and just called up to majors this week) trade.

Many rumors are circulating that the Orioles are looking into Oliver Perez.  I find this a high risk/high reward proposition for the Orioles.  Perez has done an amazing job re-making himself into a very good left-handed reliever in the last two years.  Thus, he also has a small sample size, which can give misleading data for a reliever.  However, this year he has held left handed batters to a .250 AVG while keeping right handed batters to an even lower .171 AVG.  This is exactly what the Orioles could use out of their ‘pen.  Darren O’Day, Brian Matusz, and Tommy Hunter have been tough on same side match ups but have done poorly against opposite handed batters.  The other mainstays of the bullpen have been mediocre to borderline bad to either side of the plate.  As seen from the chart below:

   

Split

IP

AVG

BABIP

FIP

xFIP

Darren O’Day

RHP

vs L

14.2

0.312

0.362

4.63

4.48

vs R

27

0.161

0.213

2.80

3.29

Brian Matusz

LHP

vs L

22.2

0.141

0.167

2.80

3.07

vs R

13.1

0.321

0.354

4.56

5.16

Tommy Hunter

RHP

vs L

24.1

0.278

0.263

6.14

4.42

vs R

28

0.118

0.162

2.02

3.43

T.J. McFarland

LHP

vs L

20

0.263

0.333

3.16

2.47

vs R

28

0.265

0.306

3.63

4.47

Troy Patton

LHP

vs L

16.2

0.269

0.278

4.56

3.9

vs R

22.1

0.277

0.333

3.82

4.62

Jim Johnson

RHP

vs L

24.1

0.250

0.296

3.92

3.83

vs R

19.1

0.264

0.333

3.22

3.49

Although Perez’s stats look great now, they do come with an asterisk of caution.  The issue is Perez’s pitching style.  He is a strikeout-flyball pitcher.  His HR/FB ratio has been 7.9% which is slightly better than the league average of 9.8%.  This number is not alarming since he’s playing half of his games at the deep caverns of SafeCo Field and all of his home runs allowed have been at home to right handed batters.  However, his FB% is much higher than the league average, 49.4% vs. 35.4%, and his career average is 47.4%.  With 32 of the final 66 games at home and 12 of the 34 away games being played at flyball unfriendly stadiums (Fenway, Yankee Stadium, Toronto), it can be assumed that his HR/FB ratio would increase with the Orioles.  Having Perez implode with a high HR/FB ratio is the biggest risk the Orioles would be taking in acquiring him.

Adding to his list of positives, Oliver Perez has an attractive contract to the Baltimore organization.  He is in the middle of a 1 year deal for $1.5 million for which they would only be responsible for the prorated remainder.  Trading for Perez, the Orioles would be wise to only offer a lower level prospect, maybe someone they rank no higher than their 15th best prospect, due to the lack of draft compensation if Perez leaves via free agency. This is a distinct possibility, especially if he continues to play as he has since becoming a reliever, he could play himself into a bigger contract that the Orioles would be unwilling to give him.  With only 2 more weeks until the non-waiver trade deadline, look out for more analysis on potential bullpen additions to the Orioles bullpen.

One Response to “Orioles Trade Options at the Deadline: Oliver Perez”

  1. […] a run at the playoffs.  Last week, I took a rather lengthy look at trading for Chase Utley, while Doug looked at fortifying the bullpen with a trade for the Mariners’ Oliver […]

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