Earlier this week, the Washington Nationals made a bit of a surprising move when they designated Eury Perez for assignment. Sure Perez had his downfalls, but he is a well-regarded 24-year old outfielder that has posted solid Triple-A numbers. What is one team’s loss is another team’s gain, though. So could the Rays look to either claim or acquire Perez from the Nationals?
Perez only has a brief MLB career, having played in 22 games and taken 13 at-bats with 2 hits. He does have extensive minor league experience, though, playing in 8 seasons after signing with the Nationals as a teenager out of the Dominican Republic. In his career, Perez is a .305/.360/.384 hitter, including a .310/.354/.411 line with 63 stolen bases in 193 Triple-A games. This year Perez has missed time due to a fractured foot, but when healthy he played well, slashing .311/.372/.406 in 57 Triple-A games.
Perez has been consistently ranked among the Nationals top prospects, ending the 2013 season as the number 5 Nationals prospect according to MLB.com, though he has fallen off some midseason lists this year in a large part because of his injury. Perez is lauded for his speed, which grades out as plus. That helps him on the base paths, though he does still have work to do on learning the finer points of base stealing. His speed on top of his slightly above-average arm also make him a great defender in center field. His biggest downfall is his lack of power, but Perez should be able to hit for plenty of contact, and given his defense and speed that makes him plenty valuable as a player. He certainly has what it takes to be an everyday center fielder, and he has little left to prove in the minors. Perez would be a great value for the Rays, especially when considering it will take little, if anything, to acquire him.
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There are a couple of downfalls to acquiring Perez, however. The Rays already have a logjam in the outfield, with young players like Kevin Kiermaier, Wil Myers, and Brandon Guyer pairing with more experienced players in Desmond Jennings, Matt Joyce, and David DeJesus. It already seems like the Rays will have to deal at least one of their outfielders this offseason, and adding Perez would only make the outfield picture more clouded.
Also, the Rays currently have a full 40-man roster, so to add Perez they would have to designate someone for assignment. Right now, there are no clear candidates that the Rays would designate. Cory Burns could be an option given the Rays’ great relief depth, but he has pitched well since coming over via waiver claim and he could factor into the bullpen picture in the near future. Vince Belnome and Cole Figueroa both have limited upside, but both are capable of filling-in on the big league roster in the event of injury. Also after the season, Matt Moore and Jerry Sands have to be reinstated from the 60-day DL, meaning two 40-man spots will be needed.
All-in-all, the Rays could certainly look into claiming or trading for Perez. He would further crowd an already jammed outfield, and the Rays would have to lose another player off the 40-man roster. That said, being able to add a potential everyday player for little to no cost might be enough to make the Rays look past those downfalls. Andrew Friedman is always looking for ways to upgrade the Rays’ roster, and adding Eury Perez is one more way that he could potentially do just that.