Cleveland Indians Closer Chris Perez’s Value Is Plummeting

Already on the Disabled List, Tribe All-Star Facing Possible Criminal Charges

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | Chris Perez's season just went from bad to worse.

On Tuesday, June 4, a search warrant was executed at Perez's home in suburban Rocky River after a package containing a suspected controlled substance was delivered there. The package was confiscated and sent to the crime lab for analysis.

No charges had been filed but at a press conference, Rocky River police chief Kelly Stillman said, "Depending on what it was and how much it was, charges will be filed accordingly."

Legal problems follow shoulder problems

Perez was at home and not with the team in New York because he is on the 15-day disabled list, and he was scheduled to begin a throwing schedule while the Indians continue their road trip. His last appearance was May 26 at Boston, when he exited with shoulder discomfort after wasting a three-run lead in the ninth inning. Perez was losing pitcher in the 6-5 walkoff loss (0.2 IP, 4 ER, 2 H, 3 BB). This was the worst of several bad performances the two-time All-Star has turned in this season.

It is also not the first time the shoulder has been an issue.

Perez began the season slated to pitch for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, but he was shut down in late February due to a right-shoulder strain. He did not pitch until late March, and he blew his first save on the second day of the regular season, surrendering a game-tying home run to Jose Bautista in Toronto.

His recent struggles began with two outings against the Seattle Mariners. On May 18, Perez gave up two solo home runs in the ninth inning to tie the game, but was credited with the victory after the Indians won the game in their last at-bat. Two days later, Chris entered the ninth inning with the game tied and served up another solo home run. The Indians would come back to win this game in walkoff fashion in extra innings.

Perez's value steadily decreasing

Chris Perez entered the 2013 season vitally important to the Indians' success, and the team paid him accordingly. He avoided arbitration and agreed to a one-year, $7.3 million contract, second-highest salary on the team this season. Perez has one more year of arbitration eligibility before he can become a free agent.

Entering his fourth year as the Tribe's closer, Perez has a career record of 9-16 with an ERA of 2.96 and 105 saves in 121 opportunities. To date in 2013, he is 2-1 with a 4.32 ERA and 6 saves in 8 opportunities. With the struggles Chris has experienced on the field this season and the recurring shoulder problem, the last thing he or the Indians need are legal issues to complicate matters.

Many Indians fans had already grown weary of Perez before these developments, in particular for his critical comments last season toward both Cleveland fans and team ownership. Perez was also the target of numerous mean-spirited posts on his Twitter page during his recent pitching struggles, which prompted him to deactivate his account. What support he had among fans is dwindling, and that of team ownership and management is likely not far behind.

Two months ago, had the Indians attempted to move Chris Perez, they would certainly have received offers and could have addressed holes in the roster, such as the need for more quality starting pitching and better left-handed relief pitching.

Today, trade offers would be few and far between, given the state of his shoulder and his contract, and releasing him would be a rash decision, leaving the Indians with nothing to show for their investment. For the time being, the club really has no choice but to stand behind its troubled pitcher and hope that he can weather the crash he is experiencing.

We'll find out soon just how far Chris Perez's stock can fall.

Matthew Frame is a lifelong baseball enthusiast and resident of northeast Ohio who is still waiting to see a Cleveland sports championship before he dies. He covers the Cleveland Indians on the Yahoo! Contributor Network, and has been published locally on other subjects in the Canton Repository.

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