Scouting The Free Agent Market: Jhonny Peralta

Rosenthal: Yankees have contacted Kelly Johnson
What Went Right: Ivan Nova

For the first time in a long time, there is serious uncertainty on the left side of the Yankees’ infield. At this time last year we were all being told Derek Jeter‘s rehab from ankle surgery would have him ready for Spring Training, plus Alex Rodriguez‘s left hip injury wasn’t even a thing yet. Some concern about Jeter, yeah, but overall the left side of the infield was not a full-fledged problem. Obviously, circumstances have changed.

“I think the left side of the infield, for various reasons, has question marks. Whether it’s recovering from a broken ankle in Derek or the controversy that’s yet to be resolved with Alex,” said Brian Cashman to Andy McCullough yesterday. New York has already been in contact with Omar Infante, Kelly Johnson, Brendan Ryan, and Brandon Phillips just in case Robinson Cano signs elsewhere, but there is no “just in case” at shortstop and third base. They need help. Everyone knows it.

In a perfect world, the Yankees would add a player capable of playing both shortstop and third base since their left side of the infield needs may change throughout the summer. (I’m sure they will.) It just so happens that type of player is available via free agency this winter in Jhonny Peralta, who’s spent the last three-plus years with the Tigers after opening his career with the Indians. Let’s break down the 31-year-old’s game to see if he’s a fit for the Bombers.

The Good

  • First and foremost, Peralta can hit. Especially by left side of the infield standards. He put up a .303/.358/.457 (123 wRC+) batting line this past season and a .278/.334/.438 (109 wRC+) line over the last three years, doing most of his damage against lefties (114 wRC+ since 2011) as a right-handed batter. Peralta’s strikeout (18.5% since 2011) and walk (7.7%) rates are pretty much exactly league average, so he doesn’t have any serious problems controlling the strike zone.
  • His defense is better than he gets credit for. Peralta has played shortstop almost exclusively with Detroit, posting good to great defensive stats across the board since 2011: +1 DRS, +25.3 UZR, +16.2 FRAA, and +11 Total Zone. He dabbled in left field last this season and spent a couple thousand innings at third base earlier in his career.
  • Peralta has been to the postseason a bunch of times in his career and has performed very well, hitting .283/.326/.506 (122 wRC+) with eight homers in 178 plate appearances spread across 45 career October games. I don’t know how you value past postseason performance, but either way, this isn’t a negative.
  • Peralta is a very durable player, appearing in at least 140 games every year from 2005-2012. He has never once been on the DL as a big leaguer.
  • The Tigers did not make Peralta (or anyone else) a qualifying offer, so teams will not have to surrender a high draft pick to sign him.

The Bad

  • Peralta’s offensive performance has been very up-and-down throughout his career. Here are his wRC+’s since breaking into the league full-time in 2005: 136, 85, 105, 112, 83, 91, 122, 86, 123. Are you getting the guy who was 20% better than league average twice in the last three years, or the guy who was 10-15% below-average three times in the last five years?
  • He won’t give you anything on the bases. Peralta has attempted only 34 steals in 1,383 career games (38% success rate) and he’s been consistently below-average at taking the extra base (first-to-third on a single, etc.). Speed is not part of his game.
  • Peralta was one of 12 players suspended 50 games for their ties to Biogenesis this August. He said he made a “terrible mistake” in “spring of 2012” in a statement without elaborating further. Obviously performance-enhancing drug stuff creates some uncertainty.

The Yankees have been connected to a ton of middle infielders already this offseason, but Peralta is not (yet) one of them. I have been wondering if the team would try to steer clear of players with PED ties in an effort to “clean up their image,” so to speak, but Cashman told McCullough they “certainly have to be open-minded” about such players this winter. The fact that they’ll tender Frankie Cervelli a contract is an indication they won’t close the door on those guys, which is a good thing in my opinion. There’s a system in place and Peralta served his time.

Not too many comparable infielders have hit the free agent market in recent years, and certainly none with a super-recent PED suspension in their history. That complicates things a bit. Jeff Keppinger’s contract (three years, $12M) with the White Sox strikes me as way too light for Peralta, so maybe the deals signed by Marco Scutaro (three years, $20M) and Aramis Ramirez (three years, $36M) are more appropriate. Splitting the middle and calling it $28M across three years ($9.3M luxury tax hit) sounds good to me, but I’m terrible at estimating this stuff. Remember, power pays and Peralta has it (18 homers in 162 games for his career), especially relative to his position. Three years and $30M might be more accurate.

It’s important to remember that Peralta has, you know, a say in where he signs. The idea of splitting time between short and third depending on the day might not be all that appealing to him, especially if other clubs (the Cardinals?) offer him a full-time job at shortstop. Stephen Drew turned the Yankees down last winter because of uncertainty about playing time (and position). This stuff matters to these guys. Peralta’s year-to-year inconsistency worries me a bit but not enough to scare me away completely. He makes plenty of sense for New York if the price is right. Do the Yankees make sense for Peralta though? He could opt for a steadier job elsewhere.

Rosenthal: Yankees have contacted Kelly Johnson
What Went Right: Ivan Nova
  • dkidd

    ho my god, i ohpe this happens

  • Eddard

    He’s a cheater. They need to send a message by not going after these guys. They can do better with the kids.

    • bpdelia

      Wait. The Yankees have kids who play SS? Really though they don’t unless you think promoting Culver after a decent second half in high A is appropriate. The left side kids are all in A ball. Most in low a ball. Hey could storm someone for five years and not worry about blocking a kid. Maybe jagielo if he sticks at this

  • Dr. Grenaldine

    Doctors orders.

  • jjyank

    I’m down with Peralta. Regarding positional uncertainty, it might only be for the first year of his deal anyway. I don’t know if Jeter will retire (I think he will), but I’d be surprised if he was still even a semi-regular SS in 2015. Maybe the idea of being the next Yankee SS has some appeal, I dunno.

    Either way, I’m interested for sure.

  • tipsie

    this guy makes too much sense, given the uncertainties NYY has on the left side of the IF; it’s the 3 year deal that is scary

    • Havok9120

      If all he gets is three years, sign me right the heck up. Age 31-34 (or 32-35) seasons aren’t really ones you necessarily want to avoid. Sure, it’s the back end of a guy’s prime years, but it’s still his prime years.

  • Preston

    His positional flexibility is a plus, but he only seems like a savior with the bat compared to the guys who played on the left side last season. I’m not sure he fits in the 189 plan, or the Derek Jeter is still a SS plan. But in an ideal world without a budget or an icon’s ego, sign him up.

  • Pee Wee Herman Ruth

    Price, years, position, defense, age, post-season history (SSS I know) all are pluses. Peralta is a no brainer.

    • Pee Wee Herman Ruth


  • RetroRob

    Drew was looking to rebuild his value to go out and hit the market again. Peralta might be more open to the uncertainty of which position (although the certainty that he will be playing reguarly regardless of which position(s)) if he has his a three-year deal. His concerns will be different than Drew. Well, that’s not quite true. Both have the same concern. Money. The different is that Peralta will get his with a multi-year deal.

  • Dick M

    Do not want. How do you know how much of his performance is attributable to PEDs?

    • Pee Wee Herman Ruth

      6.7%. Do you want him now?

      • Preston


    • Robinson Tilapia

      Most probably, these guys were not taking PEDs their entire careers.

      • I’m One

        Do you really think so? Have they stopped? I don’t think they were “caught” (failed test), but were implicated due to their involvement with Biogenesis.

        I really don’t know the answer, but I definitely think there’s a possibility they used PEDs longer than we may believe or are continuing to use them. I still wouldn’t let that stop me form signing them f there’s no proof of use.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          I really do think some of these guys just made dumb decisions they’ve moved on from. Now which ones? No clue.

  • Need Pitching & Hitting

    The inconsistent year to year performances and the PED’s make me think giving him a 3-4 year deal is a bad idea.

    He may be the best of bad left side of the IF options though, at least in terms of what’s available in free agency.

  • Mark in VT

    First, the Yankees have a SS and a 3B. Whether we want to admit it or not, they are paying for these players to start at those positions. Second, there is no way to know how much time they will miss because of injury or suspension. Third, Peralta knows this and wouldn’t want to come to NY because of the uncertainty of playing time. Not going to happen.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting

      Probably not going to happen.
      But DH is open.
      The could probably guarantee essentially full-time playing time, just not necessarily which position he’d be playing.
      That, along with the biggest contract offer, may be enough to land him.

    • Dan

      You cannot count on 150 games from Jeter or A-Rod in the field no matter what. Even if both are back, I wouldn’t sign them up for more than 100 games each in the field, even if they are predominately healthy. Peralta gives them flexibility. He could be in the lineup every day between SS, 3B, LF (when Sori DHs), and DH. Peralta has to know he’d get at least 500 ABs between those spots.

  • blake

    I think they should check into longer term options at SS via trade first….Andrus, Castro, Aybar etc….if none of those are possible then Peralta makes a lot of sense to me. He doesn’t cost the draft pick….he can play SS and 3B….and he’s a RH pretty good hitter…..almost a perfect fit for their needs.

  • blake

    personally I think moving Jeter to 3B should have been part of his contract talks and think they should already be discussing doing that…..and then trying like crazy to get a SS.

    Getting a SS now will be hard….getting one in March if it becomes apparent that Derek can’t play there will be impossible.

    There is no shame in moving to 3B at age 40 after a terrible ankle injury….3B is easier to play than SS and although it’s important….defense isn’t as important there as it is at SS nor is range.

    I don’t doubt that Derek can come back and hit…but after that injury at his age it just doesn’t seem all that realistic that he can continue to play SS….the Yanks need to be proactive about a solution

    • OldYanksFan

      Well… then your 3rd baseman will be both below average on O and D (for the position). And what of ARod in the second half… who is both better on D (at 3rd base) and a better hitter.

      Jeter’s ONLY value is as a SS, whose D will hopefully at least be consistant, and whose bat will hopefully be in the .725-.750 OPS range.

  • Dan

    I’d go 3/$30 in a heartbeat. I really hope they can make this happen.

    They should do Choo or McCann, Tanaka, Kuroda (or Garza if he goes back to Japan), Cano, and Peralta. They would lose 1 draft pick (which they would get back for Granderson), be under $189m depending on A-Rod, and be significantly better next year than this one (especially with Tex and Jeter back, and a full year of Sori). This team could win a championship.

  • blake

    Jon Heyman ?@JonHeymanCBS 3m
    Also in story, Hal Steinbrenner is said to have let Jeter know they may sign SS. NYY interested in Drew, may also keep ryan

    appears maybe they did just that.

  • Kevin Maas

    I know people will destroy this but I think it might make sense to let Cano go if he won’t take a deal close to what they have offered him and sign a Peralta, Infante and an OF for relatively the same money Cano wants. If the Yanks go short term deals with those players (2/3 yr) it frees the Yankees up long term for other free agents in future years. And with Cano over 30 yrs old, he won’t live up to the contract.

    When you look at all the big contract signings over the past few years, none have worked out and now the teams are stuck: ARod, Pujols, Hamilton, Fielder, etc.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Not my first choice. I’d honestly rather have a one-year solution at third, then re-evaluate where everything is at the end of the season again. This is why a guy like Sandoval, off the trade market, seems more attractive to me.

    Peralta as overpaid supersub? I may rather put my money elsewhere, but I wouldn’t be overly opposed either.

  • Darren

    “Johny Bye Bye, there it goes! The runners cross the plate – it’s Peralstalsis!”

    “Oh Jawn, where’s Colon when you need him!”

  • Chris Widger

    According to Feinsand, Yankees are talking to the Cardinals about trading for David Freese. As long as the price isn’t too high, he seems like a reasonable fix for third. A down year last year, but he’s got some pop and a decent glove. Yankees could do a lot worse. He’s a year removed from 20 homers and a .839 OPS

    • Robinson Tilapia

      How many years left on his deal, and what will net him? That’s the question for me.

      • Chris Widger

        They’d have to give a decent piece to net him, but contract is not a problem. He’s a late bloomer, so he’s still arbitration eligible for another year. And made just 3.15 million this year.

        • Chris Widger

          Actually, he’s arb eligible through 2015. For the money alone, he seems like a pretty good option.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            I’d need to know what the decent piece is. Price might be too high for what they’d be getting.

            • Chris Widger

              I’d give up a Mason Williams or Tyler Austin for a cheap above-average third baseman arb eligible for two years a year removed from a .839 OPS. Definitely not Sanchez, and I’d be reluctant to part with JR but I wouldn’t let it be a deal-breaker. If they wanted Adams, I’d do that in a heartbeat, and I like Adams as a guy who could eventually be a Freese clone. But with the Yankees’ recent track record…

              • Robinson Tilapia

                I still like Austin way too much.

        • Grover

          MLBTR has him pegged at $4.4M. I’ve seen as high as $4.7M and I think Mike thought there was a possibility of nontender. I think there is enough of a shortage of third baseman that there might be competition for Freese if he is truly available.

  • Chris Widger

    Alas, it seems the beard was a breaking point for Wilson and the Yankees. Which is sort of ridiculous.

  • herbygee

    As always, greedy, entitled Yankee fans think they can just pick up anybody with no regard for price. Peralta belongs on the Mets for 2014 where he will be a key player, not just a spare part. I’m greatly looking forward to the Yankees becoming a regular also-ran for the next few years.