The Dodgers already had banished ineffective Odalis Perez to relief, but he chafed at that role and accused the team of treating him like “trash” a week ago. Los Angeles gladly found a taker for Perez on Tuesday, sending him to the Royals for Elmer Dessens. To make the deal worth Kansas City’s while, the Dodgers also included righthanded pitching prospects Blake Johnson and Julio Pimentel, plus roughly $8 million to offset the remainder of Perez’ contract, which runs through 2007.
Perez, a 29-year-old lefthander, has been a huge disappointment since the Dodgers signed him to a three-year, $24 million contract in January 2005. He went 7-8, 4.56 in 19 starts last season, spending time on the disabled list with a sore shoulder and a strained oblique muscle. This year, he has gone 4-4, 6.83 in 20 games (eight starts). Opponents have crushed him to the tune of a .346 average and nine homers in 59 innings, during which he has posted a 33-13 K-BB ratio. His arsenal includes a fastball, curveball and changeup (his best pitch), but he hasn’t fooled many hitters this year and hasn’t kept the ball down as well as usual. Perez is making $7.25 million this year, and his contract further calls for a $7.75 million salary in 2007 and either a $9 million club option or $1.5 million buyout in 2008. He has a career record of 56-55, 4.24 in 184 games.
The true purpose of this trade for Kansas City wasn’t so much to acquire Perez as it was to add pitching prospects to a farm system desperately in need of as many as it can get. After acquiring Tyler Lumsden and Daniel Cortes in Monday’s Mike MacDougal trade with the White Sox, new Royals general manager Dayton Moore picked up two more in Johnson and Pimentel. Neither was having a banner season at high Class A Vero Beach, but both have quality arms.
Johnson, 21, was a second-round pick out of a Louisiana high school in 2004. His best pitch is his curveball, though he also has an average fastball and some projection remaining in his 6-foot-3, 185-pound frame. He has gone 4-5, 4.92 in 20 games (18 starts) this year. In 106 innings, he has a 73-19 K-BB ratio, .285 opponent average and 11 homers allowed.
Pimentel, also 21, signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2003 as an outfielder, but his arm strength quickly prompted a move to the mound. After breaking out as a prospect in 2004, he has stagnated the last two years at Vero Beach. This season, he has gone 3-8, 5.69 in 30 games (nine starts). He has a 77-45 K-BB ratio, while opponents have hit .290 with four homers off him. Pimentel has a little more velocity and life on his fastball than Johnson does, and he has a superior changeup. His breaking ball is more slurvy, however.
Dessens, a 35-year-old righthander, will take Perez’ place in the Los Angeles bullpen. Consider this move primarily addition by subtraction for the Dodgers. Dessens has fringe-average stuff and little margin for error. In 43 relief appearances, he has gone 5-7, 4.50 with two saves, five blown saves and 12 holds. He has a 36-13 K-BB ratio in 54 innings, with opponents batting .292 with four homers against him. Dessens is making $1.7 million this season and next as part of a $3.4 million free-agent contract he signed last offseason. His career record is 46-58, 4.41 in 320 games.