2014 MLB Free Agent Profile: Jhonny Peralta

Gregory Shamus

After his connection to the Biogenesis scandal, Jhonny Peralta could be a cheap upgrade at shortstop.

The 2013 season included plenty of ups and downs for Jhonny Peralta. The Tigers’ shortstop had one of his best offensive seasons and was selected to his second All-Star Game. Despite his size, Peralta continued to put up solid defensive numbers with a UZR/150 of 4.8. In 107 games, he hit .303/.358/.457. Combined with his defense, the free agent shortstop totaled 3.6 fWAR in only 448 plate appearances.

On the other hand, Peralta’s season was cut short by a 50-game suspension because of his connection to the Biogenesis scandal. Peralta has yet to fail a drug test, but the suspension should play a role in how large his next contract is.

The Cost

Peralta’s numbers were most likely aided by a BABIP of .374, but he has generally been at least a league average hitter, as attested by his career 102 wRC+. That number might not turn any heads, but a league average offensive shortstop who plays plus defense can be a very valuable player.

The Biogenesis scandal will surely damage Peralta’s potential earnings, and while general managers can’t know for sure how long Peralta used PEDs, how they helped him, or what he even used, anyone within shouting distance of a steroid controversy is likely to suffer the social and economic penalties thereof.

Contract-wise, the easy comparison is Melky Cabrera, who was in the middle of a career year and All-Star season before getting hit with a 50-game suspension in 2012. Despite hitting .346 at age 27, Cabrera only got a two-year, $16 million deal from the Blue Jays.

The Tigers don’t appear to want Peralta back and will not offer him a qualifying offer. He only made $6 million last year, but should expect a little more next year despite the PED-related the suspension. If the market is kinder to Peralta than it was to Cabrera, a two-year, $18 million contract could be in his future.

The Fit

In 2013, Ruben Tejada took several steps backwards. The Mets’ other internal options don’t inspire a lot of confidence, and without any additions, the job is most likely Tejada’s going into spring training.

The Mets could do a lot worse than Tejada at shortstop, but Peralta could be a cheap and notable upgrade at a key position. If suspended PED users are the next market ineffiency, a bargain contract for Peralta could make a lot of sense.

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