When we think about “no-risk” minor league deals with non-roster invitations to Spring Training, we think about the “reward” either being (1) extremely difficult to extract, or (2) more likely, but not very high in the first place.
The Cubs’ latest move would represent the latter type of minor league signing. Which is fine. Not sexy or exciting, but fine.
Per Jon Heyman and Gordon Wittenmyer, the Cubs have signed former Brewers utility-man Hernan Perez to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training, where he’ll presumably compete for a shot at that 26th man spot.
Perez, 28, should be familiar to most Cubs fans as a light-hitting, multi-positional member of the Milwaukee Brewers for the past few years. And when we say “multi-positional,” he is an extreme example: last year Perez played first base (8.2), second base (265.0 innings), third base (74.2 innings), shortstop (119.2 innings), left field (3.2 innings), center field (12.0 innings), right field (34.0 innings), and even pitched an inning on three separate occasions for the second straight season.
So in terms of a floor, well, yeah, he’s utility-man’s utility-man. But make no mistake, the bat is light. In 2019, Perez slashed .228/.262/.379, with a career-high 26.8% strikeout rate, career-high 52.8% ground ball rate, and career low 62 wRC+.
His hard contact was up, but was so was everyone’s. He was a little more useful in 2018 at the plate, hitting .253/.290/.386 with an 80 wRC+. At least he generally hits near league average against lefties? Something?
Hey, on a minor league deal and with so much positional versatility – where he can actually play the positions well defensively – there’s not really much here to dislike. Heck, maybe he can even bring some secrets over from Milwaukee, too. SPILL IT, HERNAN!
Other than that, I really don’t think there needs to be any speculation about what this move means (because it means nothing – he’s nothing more than cheap upper-level depth with a good glove at multiple positions for a team that lacks exactly that). He’ll compete with guys like Tony Kemp, Daniel Descalso, and Robel Garcia for the final spot on the bench, and will otherwise head to AAA Iowa to serve as depth.
UPDATE: An extra note on his deal. It’s a split deal, but he doesn’t make much even in the big leagues:
Hernan Perez gets $1M in majors with chance to make $2M #cubs
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 18, 2019
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.