In 2011, Joel Peralta came to the Rays, his fourth organization in four years. And over the past two years in Tampa Bay, Peralta has had the best stretch of his career, posting a 3.27 ERA in 147 appearances with 145 strikeouts against just 35 walks in 134.2 innings. Peralta has finally found a place where he’s comfortable and as he told the Tampa Bay Times, he doesn’t want anything to change.
“I wish I wasn’t a free agent. Definitely I want to be back. I’m wishing, I’m hoping, I’m praying that I can come back here. This feels like home.”
“I want what I deserve — I don’t want more, I don’t want less. So it’s up to them. I’m cheap. They can afford me.
The Rays would be ecstatic to have Peralta back as the 36 year old has led the team in appearances the past two years while pitching effectively, and he has been a key part of the back of their bullpen, even filling in capably as closer when Kyle Farnsworth went down in September of 2011. If Peralta is willing to stay at a modest salary, say 3 to 3.5 million after he made 2.17 million this season, the Rays have to sign on. Peralta is one of the older relievers who the Rays found off the scrap heap and managed to get good value from, but unlike a guy like Farnsworth, he hasn’t had the slightest whiff of an injury the past two years and has been one of the Rays’ most dependable relievers. Peralta wants to come back, and it makes sense for the Rays to oblige if the price remains low.
In the same article, Topkin also talked about how the Rays’ coaching staff looks to remain the same for 2013, with the qualifier that bench coach Dave Martinez is a candidate for managerial positions. Joe Maddon returning was obviously a given and Jim Hickey was as well as he’s one of the best around as well. He did an excellent job this season working with four rookie and sophomore starters in Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, and Chris Archer, and although all four had their struggles, all of them showed significant improvement over the course of the season. The biggest question mark may have been hitting coach Derek Shelton as the Rays offense struggled mightily this season, but the problem is personnel more than anything, especially considering the injuries the Rays endured. Hopefully the Rays are healthier in 2013 and their offense performs better, but if it struggles again Shelton might be done.
Now to Dave Martinez. Martinez was a finalist for the Astros’ manager job before it went to Nationals third base coach Bo Porter, and Topkin pointed him out as a possibility for the Colorado Rockies, where Bill Geivett, a former special assistant to the general manager for the Rays from 1997-1998, is Director of Baseball Operations. Martinez is a great baseball guy and clubhouse presence who is a valuable asset for the Rays, but best of luck to him as he interviews for managerial positions.