In a somewhat surprising move Thursday afternoon, the Washington Nationals announced they had designated outfielder Eury Perez for assignment, and in a corresponding move, claimed infielder Pedro Florimon off waivers from the Minnesota Twins. Designating Perez for assignment this late in the season could be a sly attempt to sneak him through waivers and move him off the 40-man roster prior to the offseason, while Florimon will serve as much needed minor league middle infield depth.
The 27-year-old Florimon began the 2014 season as the starting shortstop for the Minnesota Twins but struggled mightily at the plate, hitting .092/.179/.132 in 76 at-bats before mercifully being sent to the minor leagues. Originally signed by the Orioles back in 2004, Florimon made his major league debut with Baltimore in 2011, before the Twins acquired him on waivers that offseason. A switch hitter, Florimon has struggled offensively at the major league level with a career .204/.266/.300, but has a more mediocre career .250/.322/.357 minor league batting line. That said Florimon’s reputation is built on his exceptional defense at shortstop, as his strong arm, soft hands, quality range, and above-average foot speed makes him an excellent defensive infielder. Under contract through 2018, Florimon should compete for a utility infield role with the Nationals next spring.
To make room on Washington’s 40-man roster, the Nationals were forced to part with Eury Perez. The 24-year-old Perez was one of the first players signed by the Nationals organization from the Dominican Republic back in 2007. Signed for only $25,000, Perez slowly climbed through the farm system before reaching the majors in 2012. Perez is a terrific athlete who will flash 4 major league quality tools, as he possesses well above-average speed and a solid throwing arm which make him a strong defensive center fielder – he also has shown an aptitude to make contact with a career minor league batting line of .305/.360/.384. Unfortunately Perez’s sheer lack of raw power and questionable ability to get on-base make him project as a reserve outfielder and defensive replacement at the major league level. With the emergence of Steven Souza and Michael Taylor this season and the presence of center field prospect Brian Goodwin, Perez was deemed expendable by the organization.
Although the timing of this transaction is slightly peculiar, Perez’s unfortunate injury this season coupled with the Nationals having four centerfielders ahead of him on the depth chart (Span, Taylor, Souza, and Goodwin) made this move nearly a foregone conclusion for the Nationals. Perez has major league talent however, and should draw mild trade interest on waivers. In a vacuum, Perez is a more talented player which makes this move slightly difficult to digest.
On the other hand, after trading Zach Walters and the strong chance that Asdrubal Cabrera and Danny Espinosa do not return to Washington next season, Florimon gives the Nationals infield depth, specifically at shortstop, that they otherwise currently do not have in the organization. As a switch-hitter with good speed and a whiz defensively, Florimon profiles as a quality 25th man. Projecting ahead to 2015, there is a much stronger chance Florimon is a part of the roster than Perez, which makes this another solid decision by the Nationals front office.
NatsGM Overall Grade -> B- / C+