Pirates sign veteran lefty Pérez to 1-year deal

January 5th, 2024

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates bolstered their biggest area of concern, signing left-hander Martín Pérez to a one-year contract, the club announced on Friday. The deal is worth $8 million, a source told MLB.com.

Pérez -- like Marco Gonzales, whom Pittsburgh acquired from the Braves earlier in the offseason -- is the type of starting pitcher who fits the Pirates' needs right now as a veteran presence with a positive clubhouse influence and an ability to deliver 30 or more starts in a season.

Pérez is only one year removed from his lone All-Star season, 2022, when he put up numbers that arguably should have garnered him an American League Cy Young Award vote. He went 12-8 on a Rangers team that finished 68-94, a far cry from its World Series title run in 2023. Pérez's 196 1/3 innings in '22 were the fifth most in the American League, and his 2.89 ERA was the eighth lowest in the AL.

Around that season, though, Pérez appeared in more than 30 games each in 2021 and '23, but he was used in a more versatile role, making only 22 starts in '21 and 20 starts in '23. Last year, Pérez had a 4.45 ERA in 141 2/3 innings with a 1.405 WHIP.

Before his breakout in 2022, Pérez had a 4.71 ERA in 10 seasons. It's a bit odd for a starting pitcher to show such marked improvements in one season after a decade of relatively consistent results, but if the Pirates see Pérez regain that form, he would offer a pivotal boost for a team which many players believe is just a few key pieces away from contending for a playoff spot.

The Pirates' rotation has been hampered by injuries. JT Brubaker will not return to the rotation until after Opening Day due to Tommy John surgery, and Johan Oviedo is expected to miss the season due to the same operation. Mitch Keller and Oviedo were the Bucs' only two full-time starting pitchers by season's end in 2023, so having two veteran starters is huge for a still-young team.