Always looking to find a discarded gem, the Orioles have signed suspended reliever Chris Perez to a minor league deal and will assign him to Triple-A Norfolk.
Perez, 30, cannot pitch for the Tides until he serves a 50-game suspension that was handed down in June for testing positive for the second time for a drug of abuse – believed to be marijuana. He also made headlines in 2013 when he was arrested, fined and given probation for pleading no contest after a package of marijuana was sent to his house, addressed to his dog.
A two-time All Star closer for the Cleveland Indians, Perez was a minor league free agent at the time of the suspension. He had been with the Milwaukee Brewers' Triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs, posting a 9.39 ERA in six games in the notoriously hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. He opted out of his contract in late April to be with his wife, who was about to give birth to the couple's third child.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Perez was in Sarasota, Fla., on Thursday, and was "headed to the barber shop." Perez normally pitches with a thick beard, which is against organizational rules.
The club attempted to sign Perez before the 2014 season, but he instead agreed to a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 393 big league games, Perez is 16-24 with a 3.51 ERA and 133 saves.
"I don't know much at all about what's been going on with him. I know that we were talking about signing him a year or two ago," Showalter said during his afternoon news conference. "I know how we all weighed in on it. I just heard about it like 45 minutes ago, an hour ago. I do know there's some other variables there to figure into it, I think."
The Orioles have not officially announced the move. Theoretically, if pitching well, Perez could be added to the 40-man roster and be a September call-up this year.
Quiet July 2
July 2 marks the beginning of baseball's international signing period, when teams are allowed to sign amateur players from around the world.
Several teams reportedly shelled out signing bonuses of over $1 million on 16-year-old international players, but the Orioles, who traditionally aren't big spenders in that market, had no agreements in place Thursday.
General manager Dan Duquette said the club is currently meeting with several prospects and expects some will sign this week.
The crown jewel of the Orioles' recent international classes appears to be third baseman Jomar Reyes, a 6-foot-3 18-year-old from the Dominican Republic who batted .283 with a pair of home runs and 14 doubles in his first 54 games with Low-A Delmarva this season.
Otherwise, many of the Orioles' biggest international free-agent signings have been more experienced imports. The Orioles added Cuban outfielders Henry Urrutia and Dariel Alvarez through this avenue in years past, and recently added Cuban left-hander Ariel Miranda, who debuted for High-A Frederick last month.
Alvarez was named a starter for the International League team in the Triple-A All-Star Game. He is one of four Norfolk Tides to earn All-Star nods. Catcher Steve Clevenger (Mount St. Joseph) and pitchers Michael Bowden and Oliver Drake (Navy) will join Alvarez in the showcase against the Pacific Coast League All-Stars on July 15 in Omaha, Neb. … The Orioles still plan to use left-hander T.J. McFarland in a relief role in the majors, but he started for Norfolk on Thursday … Right-hander Tyler Wilson, who was called up Wednesday as bullpen depth, was optioned back to Norfolk before the game to make room for starter Kevin Gausman.