Just about a week ago, as the Winter Meetings were kicking off, rumors began to surface regarding Oliver Perez. It seemed the San Diego Padres could have some interest in the lefty starter/reliever. They had a history, and the team could use some left-handed help still, so the notion made some sense. But Perez has long been an up and down player. That may be one of the many reasons the Padres are no longer interested.
Bill Center of the San Diego Union Tribune spoke with general manager Josh Byrnes after he returned from the Winter Meetings in Florida, and Byrnes confirmed the team is no longer pursuing Perez. Along with the uncertainty that comes with signing a pitcher like Perez, the Padres are simply running out of roster spots. They traded Anthony Bass for the Houston Astros' Rule 5 pick Patrick Schuster, and they must carry him on the 25-man roster throughout the season or they'll have to send him back to Houston.
Byrnes had originally been interested in Perez as a left-handed reliever. Obviously with the bullpen such a focus this offseason, the club had to consider all options, and Perez could have been a viable one. After the Seattle Mariners converted him to a full-time reliever, Perez seemed to settle into his role. In 2012, Perez posted a 2.12 ERA. This past season, he finished with a 3.74 ERA. Perez certainly could have been a serviceable reliever for San Diego, but the team appears to have its sights set a little higher per their interest in Joaquin Benoit.
Perez was originally signed by the Padres as an amateur free agent back in 1999. The team had high hopes for this left-handed starter. He made his Major League debut in 2002 at just 20 years old. That season, he went 4-5 with a 3.50 ERA. Unfortunately, that was the peak of his success with San Diego. Perez and Jason Bay were sent to the Pittsburgh Pirates in August of 2003 in a trade that brought the Padres Brian Giles. Overall, it wasn't a terrible deal. Giles had some success - if not, frustrating success - with the team. Perez never turned into the dominant pitcher many thought he'd be. Bay put up some impressive numbers early in his career, but injuries derailed him substantially.
With Perez no longer on the Padres' radar, the team will likely continue to focus on Benoit as well as some other minor moves. Byrnes continues to say the club is not done and they have interest elsewhere.