When the Nats signed Perez last spring and it was clear that he was going to start the very first game in Nationals Park, many fans objected. They preferred having someone who had a connection to the team beyond a few innings in Viera. But, as always, when Jason Bergmann is your alternative, it's time to reconsider.
Those doubters shut their pieholes pretty quickly. On opening night, Perez pitched magnificently, giving up just one run, which set the stage for Zimm's big blast.
Over the course of the season, he was a big bargain, giving the Nats quality innings for just $850,000.
Nobody's going to project Perez to win a Cy Young, but he's likely to give the rotation some much-needed depth. The Nats are counting on a large number of kids this season. Young pitchers have a lot of upside -- certainly more than Odalis. But as anyone who sat through some of Matt Chico's starts can tell you, there's a whole lotta suck sometimes, too.
Perez's job will be to take pressure off the others, eating a rotation spot so the Nats can cycle through the kids, depending on who's healthy and who's pitching well. If Shairon Martis is stinking, the Nats won't be forced to keep him; they can ship him to Syracuse.
And if Perez pitches as well as he did last year, it's all gravy. He'd certainly be more attractive at the trading deadline with two solid seasons behind him, instead of the half-season he had last July. Plus, there's always a chance that he'll be decent enough to net the Nats a draft pick if he walks at the end of the year.
It's a signing with little downside, and one that's sure to please Uncle Teddy Lerner's wallet.