A familiar face is close to returning to the Red Sox rotation.
According to multiple major league sources, the Red Sox and lefthander Martin Perez are in agreement on a one-year, $4.5 million deal that includes a $6 million team option for 2022. The option has a $500,000 buyout. The deal, which is pending a physical, also includes bonuses for innings pitched in both seasons.
Perez joined the Red Sox as a free agent after the 2019 season. He was the most consistent and reliable member of the rotation in 2020, making a team-leading 12 starts while forging a 3-5 record and 4.50 ERA with 6.7 strikeouts and 4.1 walks per nine innings. While his swing-and-miss rates were modest, Perez got plenty of bad contact; the 85.3 mph average exit velocity against him was fourth-lowest in the majors among pitchers who threw at least 750 pitches.
Perez, 29, spoke frequently throughout the season about his enjoyment of and hope to return to Boston. However, the Red Sox declined their $6.85 million option for 2021, making Perez a free agent. More than two months into the offseason, however, the Red Sox and Perez agreed to extend their relationship.
The team’s rotation projects to include Eduardo Rodriguez, Nate Eovaldi, and Perez, with Nick Pivetta, Tanner Houck, and Matt Andriese as additional options. Chris Sale is expected to be ready to return from Tommy John by midseason.
But the Red Sox may not be done adding to their rotation, as the $5 million guarantee to Perez — the salary plus buyout of the option — does not preclude another move for a starter, according to a major league source.
Perez can earn up to $500,000 in bonuses based on his innings in 2021, $100,000 each for reaching 130, 140, 150, 160, and 170 innings. If his option is exercised in 2022, he could earn up to $750,000 in bonuses, with $100,000 for each 10-inning increment starting at 130 and a $250,000 bonus if he reaches 180.
News of the agreement was first reported by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.