Mariners News: Seattle Signs RHP Joel Peralta to Minor-League Deal

Aug 8, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Joel Peralta (62) pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the eighth inning at PNC Park. The Pirates won 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 8, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Joel Peralta (62) pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the eighth inning at PNC Park. The Pirates won 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The Seattle Mariners have signed veteran right-handed reliever Joel Peralta to a minor-league deal.

Jerry Dipoto has been the busiest man in baseball this offseason, and he made yet another shrewd pickup on Tuesday afternoon. The Seattle Mariners have inked Joel Peralta to a minor-league contract. The veteran right-hander will be given every opportunity to compete for a bullpen spot this spring in Peoria.

Peralta spent the 2015 season pithing for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was limited to just 33 appearances with Los Angeles as he dealt with neck and shoulder issues all season. However, Peralta was an effective reliever when healthy, going 3-1 with a 4.34 ERA. He struck out 24 and walked 8 across 29 innings.

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Originally signed by the Oakland Athletics as an amateur free agent, Peralta has been a reliable contributor in big league bullpens since his debut in 2005. He bounced around a bit during the early part of his career, but he came into his own during the 2010 season with the Washington Nationals. Peralta went 1-0 and recorded a career low 2.02 ERA through 49 innings. Most impressive of all, he allowed just 0.796 walks/hits per inning.

Peralta took his talents to Tampa Bay in 2011, and he thrived with the Joe Maddon led Rays. He spent four seasons in Tampa, going 11-22 with a 3.58 ERA across 296 games. Peralta tallied 293 punch outs and issued just 84 free passes in 269.1 innings pitched. Maddon got the best out of Peralta by using him in the setup role. He pitched made at least 69 appearances in each of his four seasons with the Rays, leading the league with 80 appearances in 2013.

The Dominican Republic product experienced his best season as a pro in 2012. Peralta went 2-6 with a 3.63 ERA in 76 games. Those numbers don’t jump off the page, but he set career highs averaging 11.3 strikeouts per 9 innings and registering a 4.94 strikeout to walk ratio. Peralta also limited the opposition to just 0.985 walks/hits per inning.

Peralta utilizes a very unique delivery and a three-pitch arsenal. He relied heavily on his 89 mph fastball in 2015, using it 51% of the time. Peralta’s curveball has historically been his out pitch, but he had significant trouble locating the bender last season. He mixes in an above average split-finger fastball that hovers in the 81 mph range. Peralta’s style should play well in the spacious confines of Safeco Field.

Baseball Reference is somewhat optimist that Peralta will have a bounce back season. They believe he will go 3-3 with a 4.11 ERA and 2 saves across 46 innings of work. FanGraphs does not share their rosy outlook. They anticipate Peralta will post a respectable 3.73 ERA, but they only expect him to appear in 10 games with the Mariners.

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Age and injury concerns are likely what torpedoed Joel Peralta’s market this offseason. He will be 40 years old on opening day, and he has averaged 69 appearances per season since 2011. It’s clear his best days are behind him, and one has to wonder how much he has left in the tank. Neck and shoulder issues plagued him last season in Chavez Revine, and more time on the disabled list in likely on the horizon for the aging hurler.

However, signing Peralta to a minor-league deal represents a great low risk/high reward situation for Dipoto and the Mariners. Peralta has been a very consistent pitcher during his career, and he should bring some much needed veteran leadership to the M’s bullpen. Dipoto and Scott Servais have harped on the importance of controlling the strike zone in 2016, and Peralta sports a 3.27 strikeout to walk ratio over the course of his 11-year big league career.

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There are plenty of spots up for grabs in the M’s bullpen right now, and I would not be surprised to see Peralta head north to the Emerald City at the end of March. Steve Cishek, Charlie Furbush and Joaquin Benoit are the only Mariners’ relievers guaranteed a spot in the ‘pen this year. Peralta is the oldest player on the roster right now, and I think his presence could really help some of the younger players this season. I don’t see him as a setup man in Seattle, but look for him to eat up some innings as a middle-reliever.