It looked like Martín Pérez was going to be one-and-done with the Red Sox when the club declined his $6.25 million option on Nov. 1.
But the lefty starter is returning to the Red Sox on a new one-year, $4.5 million contract that includes a $6 million option for 2022.
The sides agreed to terms on the new pact back on Jan. 16, and the Red Sox formalized it on Friday night.
“I was disappointed at one point, but at the same time, I told my agent, 'I want to wait, because I know they’re trying to make a lot of moves, and I want to wait because all offseason, my mind was on Boston,'” said Pérez. “My heart, too. And I felt good last year, I enjoyed the short season that we played and especially I enjoyed the fans, [the interaction] with them after games. I think that’s why I always told my agent, 'I want to be back, I just want to wait and let’s see what they got for me,' and finally, we made the deal and now I’m back.”
Though 2020 was a tough one for the Red Sox, Pérez expressed his enthusiasm for Boston and was open about his desire to remain with the Sox throughout the season.
In a depleted Boston rotation, Pérez was the only pitcher to make all 12 of his starts in the shortened 60-game season. He went 3-5 with a 4.50 ERA. His ERA was bloated by a shellacking he took in his final start of the season, but he did his job for the most part. In fact, Pérez allowed two earned runs or fewer in seven of those 12 starts.
He figures to have a lot more help around him in 2021. Eduardo Rodriguez, who didn’t throw a pitch last season due to COVID-19 and myocarditis, is expected to be a full-go. Staff ace Chris Sale, who also didn’t pitch last season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery, could be back by midseason. And the Sox signed hard-throwing Garrett Richards as a free agent.
“I think it’s going to be a good rotation,” Pérez said. “I mean, last year, we had a lot of injuries. We didn’t have Eduardo, and a lot of people got hurt. So, this year, I think we’re going to have a great, great pitching staff and we just have to stay healthy. Stay healthy and stay together. We’re going to do good things because, like I said, you play with your heart, something special is going to happen.”
What excites Pérez the most is the chance to play for manager Alex Cora, who stepped away from the Red Sox last season due to his connection to the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, but was rehired by the club in November.
“I think he's a champion, you know, and he’s going to train us to be champions,” said Pérez.