Last week, when Pat Lackey told you about Odalis Perez's failure to show up at Nationals camp, he wrote that the "Nationals finished in last place with Perez and they appear pretty confident that they can duplicate the feat without him." They'll put that confidence to the test after releasing Perez on Monday.
That allows Perez to seek other employment, although there probabaly won't be too many suitors will be lining up to pay him more than $850,000 in this economy. Perez made a fuss about the lack of guaranteed money from the Nats, but he was going to make the team and guarantee himself the salary, so his real problem was with the amount. If he gets more, God bless him, but I wouldn't break ground on that pool just yet.
Perez is a lefty and he's good enough to back up most rotations, so he'll likely find work at some point. The way he handled the situation with the Nats won't help him, though. Perez went back on a verbal agreement on a new deal and then refused to talk to the Nationals after deciding not to report to camp. From what Jim Bowden said when announcing the move, he might not even know that he's been released.
"He would not return our phone calls, and after talking internally with [Manager] Manny Acta and [pitching coach] Randy St. Claire and the organization, we all feel it's important that we want players here than want to be here and want to help us win, so we made that decision this morning."
Perez's departure opens a door for Jordan Zimmermann, the team's top starting prospect. His progress was always going to be worth watching in March, but now he's got an improved shot of breaking camp with the big boys. The switch from Perez to Zimmermann, or whoever takes the spot, will likely cost the Nats a few wins in 2009, but if they find a long-term member of the rotation it is worth the swap.