CLEVELAND — Editor's note: the video in the player above is from a previous story.
While it appears that Major League Baseball and its players are heading toward a lockout at midnight, one former Cleveland Indians player has a new home. According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, former Cleveland catcher Roberto Perez has agreed to a one-year contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Originally selected by the-then Indians in the 33rd round of the 2008 MLB Draft, Perez made his Major League debut with Cleveland in 2014 and had served as the franchise's primary catcher since the 2019 season. While he was largely considered a liability as a hitter, hitting for a .206 average (.657 OPS) over the course of eight seasons, the Puerto Rico native established a reputation as one of the best defensive catchers in the sport, earning Gold Glove Awards and Fielding Bible Awards in 2019 and 2020, in addition to being named the 2019 Wilson Defensive Player of the Year.
But despite Perez's defensive prowess, the now-Guardians opted to decline $7 million option on the 32-year-old's contract for the 2022 season. Due largely to injuries, Perez only appeared in 44 games in 2021, hitting for a career-worst .149 average (.564 OPS) to go along with seven home runs and 17 RBI.
With Perez no longer on their roster, the Guardians are currently set to enter 2022 with Austin Hedges as their primary catcher, with 23-year-old Bryan Lavastida also a member of Cleveland's 40-man roster. In 88 games last season, the 29-year-old Hedges hit for a .178 average (.527 OPS), 10 home runs and 31 RBI, while posting a 1.4 defensive WAR (wins above replacement).