CLEVELAND — Editor's note: the video in the player above is from Feb. 12, 2021.
While the Cleveland Indians continue to reshape their bullpen, they're also bringing back a familiar face. According to Jon Heyman of the MLB Network, the Indians are bringing back reliever Oliver Perez.
While Tom Withers of the Associated Press reports that Perez's invite to Spring Training is on a minor league contract, there stands reason to believe the 39-year-old left-hander could make Cleveland's Opening Day roster.
Since initially signing with the Indians midway through the 2018 season, Perez has been one of Cleveland's most reliable relievers, tallying a 2.67 earned run average and 105 strikeouts in 139 appearances over the course of three seasons. In 21 appearances during the 2020 season, which was shortened due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Perez posted a 1-1 record, 2.00 ERA and 14 strikeouts.
What's more is that the return of Perez provides the Indians with a proven left-handed pitcher capable of taking the mound in late-game situations. In addition to Perez, Cleveland will likely take extended looks at Kyle Nelson and Logan Allen as left-handed bullpen options this spring.
Perez's return also potentially bolsters an Indians bullpen that will be breaking in a new closer in 2021. After declining the contract option of Brad Hand, who went on to sign with the Washington Nationals, Cleveland will likely turn to James Karinchak as its closer in the upcoming season.
Indians pitchers and catchers reported to Goodyear, Arizona, for Spring Training on Wednesday, with their first workout set for Thursday.