GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- As Spring Training camps opened two weeks ago and players reported, veteran left-handed reliever Oliver Perez could only remain home and wait for a call. When it finally came, Perez wasted no time.In a deal that appeared to come together quickly, the Reds signed Perez to a
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- As Spring Training camps opened two weeks ago and players reported, veteran left-handed reliever Oliver Perez could only remain home and wait for a call. When it finally came, Perez wasted no time.
In a deal that appeared to come together quickly, the Reds signed Perez to a Minor League contract on Saturday and brought him into camp as a non-roster player. The 36-year-old will compete for a bullpen spot as a situational reliever.
If he makes the team, Perez will earn $1.25 million this season, with an additional $500,000 possible in performance bonuses. He can opt out of his contract at the end of camp if he does not make the club.
"I've been around the league. Sometimes it's quick. Sometimes it takes long," said Perez, a native of Mexico who makes his home in the Phoenix area. "I am excited to wear a new uniform."
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Represented by agent Scott Boras, Perez noted that the Reds were the first team to call about signing him.
"I want to be there, because normally the first team that calls [is] the team that wants you," Perez said. "I like to be with a new team, because it's fresh air and I'm excited to be here."
A veteran of 15 Major League seasons, initially as a starter, Perez had been with the Nationals the previous two years. In 2017, he posted a 4.64 ERA in 50 appearances and 33 innings.
From 2002-10, Perez was mostly a starter for the Padres, Pirates and Mets. Following his release from New York, he spent '11 in the Minors and Mexican League and worked to convert to a reliever. In '12, he joined the Mariners' bullpen.
Over the past six seasons in bullpens for Seattle, Arizona, Houston and Washington, Perez posted a 3.74 ERA and 1.34 WHIP. For his career, lefty hitters have batted .231 against him, compared to .249 for right-handed hitters. Last season, lefties batted .227 compared to .283 for righties.
"We don't have a lot of left-handed relief depth - at least not of the experienced nature," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "[Perez] has a track record of being very, very tough on left-handed hitters. He's been durable. He found niche for himself in the left-handed relief role.
"We love the competition to come out of camp with our best possible team in every realm. I'm looking forward to him coming out and showing what he's got to contribute and seeing if he's one of our best seven or eight relievers coming out of camp."
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Cincinnati currently has one lefty locked into a bullpen spot in Wandy Peralta. Cody Reed, a left-handed starting pitcher prospect, is competing as a reliever in camp as well. Price generally uses his southpaw relievers against hitters on both sides of the plate, so it would be rare for the manager to use Perez exclusively vs. lefty batters.
The Reds already upgraded their bullpen in the offseason with the free-agent signings of Jared Hughes and David Hernandez to two-year big league contracts.
Perez passed his physical and was already in camp to work out with the club. He will wear No. 31.
"I've seen that just by watching the Nationals play, that he still has plenty of stuff," Price said. "And now he has the experience and savvy of a true left-handed reliever."
Although a late signing, Perez is ready to jump right in and get to work.
"I played winter ball. I want to do whatever I can to show what I've got," Perez said.
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.