Emotions high as D-backs deal Peralta for promising young catcher

July 31st, 2022

ATLANTA -- The D-backs acquired catcher Christian Cerda in a trade with the Rays, who received veteran outfielder David Peralta.

Peralta received the news when he entered the clubhouse ahead of Arizona's 6-2 loss to the Braves on Saturday at Truist Park. The D-backs could only muster one hit and two walks against three Atlanta pitchers before scoring two runs on three hits in the ninth inning against A.J. Minter.

"It's a lot of emotions," Peralta said in the visiting clubhouse while holding back tears. "On one part, I'm sad because I'm leaving the organization, I'm leaving my teammates, they're all for me like little brothers. On the other side, I'm excited to start a new challenge and new journey with a new team, too."

D-backs get:
Minor League C Christian Cerda
Rays get: OF David Peralta

Peralta has played every game of his nine seasons with the D-backs.

"It's part of the business," Carson Kelly said about players getting traded. "But, David's been a friend of mine for the last four years. And the things he's done for this team, the community, the whole state of Arizona, we wish him the best. He's just been a big part of this [team], big part of this, definitely a tough day for us."

The person who has come up with Peralta the most is manager Torey Lovullo.

"I remember my first interaction [with Peralta] like it was yesterday," Lovullo said. "I was in the Minor League training room at Salt River. He was coming back and rehabbing from an injury, we were talking about some of the expectations and some of the things that I was trying to implement. And he says, 'I got your back, on any level and any time, we'll make that happen. Your thoughts and your dreams are mine, my dreams, too.' So that meant the world to me. I wasn't sure what type of interaction I was gonna have with some of the veteran players coming back, but that was one I'll never forget.

"It's always a hard day when you have to say goodbye to somebody that you've been in the trenches with and even developed a bond with and you trust. David's helped me become a better manager with the information that he shares with me and the things that other players might not be thinking about. He just was a very good teammate, he was a good player and he meant so much to this organization. His story is unbelievable."

Although fans will always remember Peralta's Silver Slugger performances in 2018 and defensive gems that earned him a Gold Glove in 2019, that's not where his journey began.

Originally, Peralta was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004 as a pitcher, but after being released in 2009, he had to find another way to keep his professional baseball dream alive.

After taking the 2010 season off to save money to make the trip from Florida to Texas, he made his first appearance for Rio Grande Valley in the independent North American Baseball League in 2011. In 2012, Chris Carminucci, a scout for Arizona, caught wind of the transitioned outfielder in Wichita. Carminucci and Peralta got together ahead of the 2013 independent ball season for a private workout. Following the performance, Peralta got a call from Carminucci on July 3, 2013, that a roster spot had opened up.

Peralta was signed out of independent ball by the D-backs and played a season with Single-A Visalia in 2013 before being assigned to Double-A Mobile and making his Major League debut with Arizona on June 1, 2014.

Now 34 years old, the outfielder is slugging .541 over his last 25 games while slashing .248/.316/.460 on the season with a .823 OPS against right-handed pitchers and has the potential to help a Rays team who's in the playoff hunt and struggling against right-handers, ranking 23rd in MLB with a .684 OPS.

"I want to win, I want to go to the postseason and I'm glad that Tampa Bay looked up to me and said, 'Hey, you're the guy that's gonna help us,' and I'm really excited about that," Peralta said.

The outfielder was nearing his contract's end at the end of the 2022 season, and the D-backs management believed that the team has to look to the future for further success.

"We still have to make decisions that are in sort of the best long-term interests of the organization, and David [Peralta] is an impending free agent," general manager Mike Hazen said in a conference call following the trade. "And the one area of our operation that I think you could pretty much confidently point to that we have more than our fair share of is left-handed-hitting outfielders."

The future that Hazen speaks of is 19-year-old catcher Cerda, who was on a 14-game on-base streak at the Rookie level with the FCL Rays while slashing .315/.464/.519 for the season. The Bronx native signed a Minor League contract in 2019 with Tampa Bay.

"We went after him pretty hard as an amateur, and that's where a lot of these evaluations do start," Hazen said.

"We still want to continue to try to take shots at guys that have a chance to be an everyday catcher at the Major League level, and [this is a] 19-year-old kid who's having a very good season right now. Our scouts that we recently ran in there like a lot about what he brings to the table."