Hot Stove Notes - Odalis Perez

A serviceable left-handed starter who could be plucked out of the free agent bargain bin.

Odalis Perez, the Washington Nationals Opening Day starter last season, started 30 games, finishing with a 7-10 won-loss record with a basically league average ERA of 4.34. The 31-year-old left-hander is a free agent testing the market.

The 10-year major league veteran has previously played for the Atlanta Braves (1998-2001), the Los Angeles Dodgers (2002-2006), the Kansas City Royals (2006-2007) and the Washington Nationals (2008), posting a career record of 73-82, appearing in 252 games, including 221 starts.

Perez best seasons came with his stint with the Los Angeles Dodgers, In a two-year period from 2002-2003, he won 27 games (15 in 2002, 12 in 2003), which was tied for the third most wins by a left-handed pitcher in the National League, joining Tom Glavine behind Randy Johnson and Al Leiter.

The 2009 season is a long way from those days in Los Angeles, especially for a pitcher who has been considered an underachiever for most of his career. If healthy, his fastball still tops out around 90 MPH, with his best pitch being a change-up, to go along with a decent curveball, and he still possesses good command of all of his pitches. Throughout most of his career he has been equally as effective against right-handed batters has he has against lefties.

The knock on Perez is that he hasn't always been one of the most popular players on the team, especially when his displeasure with his teammates shows up in the press, before it was expressed in the clubhouse. He's been known to be moody and to complain about the lack of run support from his teammates in the past.

In St. Louis, the Dominican native would join fellow countryman, Albert Pujols, who would take care of any clubhouse issues with the left-hander, giving Perez the opportunity to focus on the thing he actually has control of, pitching.

This past season, Perez, pitched for the Nationals for only $850,000, a huge pay cut from the $7.7 million he made while pitching for the Royals the previous season.

With the medical jury still out, on the condition of Chris Carpenter, the Cardinals need to add depth to the rotation, and it wouldn't hurt, adding a lefty. Perez, for under $1 million would be a potential bargain that could pay dividends next season.

The outlook on Perez has always been that he has to watch his weight and control his emotions, if he stays healthy. He's looking to stage a comeback to position himself to make the big bucks again and there is no better stage than baseball in St. Louis.

This won't be the big deal Cardinal fans are looking for, but I'd sign off on a one-year deal for $850,000.00. Don't expect a deal to be done with Perez until after the winter meetings, if ever, as Perez will want to see how the free-agent market plays out before he signs.

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