The front office of the Cleveland Indians sent a message on Thursday.
Cleveland cutting ties with closer Chris Perez, who was released by the club on the final day of October, was an obvious decision that had to be made. Perez lost his job and was ultimately relegated to a spectator role by the end of the 2013 Major League Baseball regular season due to multiple poor performances, and he was set to earn somewhere between $9 and $10 million during the upcoming offseason. The two-time All Star pitcher who notched 98 saves for the Indians from 2010-12 had, in his final season with the Indians, pitched and also acted himself right out of town.
It would be an understatement to suggest that Perez had a bad year. He closed his personal Twitter account in May after multiple bad outings resulted in a backlash from many within the Cleveland fan base. He was then arrested in June after a package of marijuana was mailed to his house.
His most noteworthy crime, at least the biggest that didn't result in the authorities being contacted, came in late summer when Perez responded to blown saves by not talking to the media after those in-game meltdowns. These acts of selfishness left Perez's teammates hung out to dry and having to answer for the closer's poor play on the field.
Losses happen. Every pro athlete experiences them. Mariano Rivera, believed by many to be the greatest closer of all time, did not call it a career with a perfect record. Part of being a pro is stepping up, facing the music in post-game press conferences, and then moving on.
If the Indians releasing Perez wasn't enough of a statement, the franchise re-signed veteran Jason Giambi on the same day. The 42-year old Giambi hit only .183 with nine home runs and 31 RBI in 71 games with the team. While his numbers were far from great, he was responsible for one of the top highlight reel Progressive Field moments in recent memory.
No player, of course, earns a fresh contract for just one swing of the bat. Giambi is liked and respected by those in the clubhouse. He is also viewed as being a true team player who is all-in for the cause.
In short, he's the opposite of Perez.
Part of the Indians making that magical September run that landed them in the one-game Wild Card was the team coming together and buying into the philosophy of manager Terry Francona. While it is a bit simplistic to say that Perez no longer fit in, it's also accurate. Sure, money probably played a significant role in the Tribe releasing Perez.
You haven't been paying attention to what is still very much so a work in progress at the Indians if you think cash was the only reason behind this particular move.
And thus the Indians will move on and look for a new closer. The fact of the matter is that there are plenty of options out there. Cleveland may even have a closer of the future somewhere within the organization without yet knowing it. Whoever the Indians goes with, fans should hope that the chosen individual isn't the most active of Twitter users, and also that his extracurricular activities abide by all state and federal laws.
Thanks for everything, Chris, but I can't say that you'll be all that missed.